It has been a big week for NYC Nom Nom. First, I found out that my recipe was selected to appear (with me, of course) on the Wendy Williams Show LIVE this Tuesday! I will be up against 2 other audience members in a dessert competition that will be judged by Gail Simons and Johnny Iuzzini for a Top Chef: Just Desserts segment. I am making a Double Trouble Peanut Butter Cup that was inspired by a concoction I made for Mike’s birthday last year. I just did a test round and it turned out really well! I will be sure to blog about it after the show, however, don’t forget to tune in at 10am LIVE in the New York area on Fox 5. If you are not in New York or want to catch it later that day, you can find the rest of the Wendy Williams TV schedule here.
Second, I filmed my first video blog for Nom Nom. Stay tuned for a vlog about making a Chocolate Meringue.
Lastly, I was THRILLED to find out that I have advanced to Round 2 of Project Food Blog. Thank you everyone for voting! This week’s theme is “The Classics.” The challenge is to take a classic that is out of your comfort zone and cook it as close as possible to the original. For my Classic, I chose to go with Banh Mi. First, Vietnamese food is VERY out of my comfort zone. While I make a lot of classic American, Jewish, and Italian cuisine, Vietnamese is in a totally different ball game. On top of that, I was using a slow cooker for the first time. I received one for my birthday a few weeks ago and this seemed like a great opportunity to try it for the first time.
So why Banh Mi? Well… we have been watching The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network and I was THRILLED to see that there was a truck called The Nom Nom Truck competing. We also were lucky enough to go to the LA Times Food Festival when we were out in LA 2 weeks ago (blog to come) and sampled the delicious food from The Nom Nom Truck.
The closest I have come to cooking Vietnamese is ordering in on Seamless Web. I’ve had my share of Pho delivery and have dined at a few Vietnamese places in NYC, however, most of the ingredients and cooking methods are out of my comfort zone. I’m also not a huge sandwich fan, nor have I ever made a point of making a fancy one.
Last night before bed, we prepped the pork for the slow cooker. The first step was just melting sugar. Now I’ve only melted sugar with butter or water in the past, so I was nervous that it would burn, but it melted into liquid and caramelized quite easily.
Once it all turns to liquid, you pour in chicken stock and fish sauce. Now the recipe warned that the ”caramel will harden and steam vigorously.” What I didn’t expect was splattered liquid all over the stove that quenched the gas flame and hardened the caramel to a complete solid. I spent the next few minutes quite nervous that one of my favorite pots was ruined and I’d have to start all over, however, the caramel did in fact melt and all was well (after a bit of clean up).
Next, I added the shallots, garlic, and white(ish) parts of the scallions.
The smell was fantastic while it boiled for 4 minutes.
Mike was nice enough to chop up the pork while I prepped.
All that was left to do that night was throw it all in the slow cooker, set it to low, and leave it for 8 hours. Couldn’t be easier!
I was quite nervous when I woke up the next morning. I have never used a slow cooker and didn’t know what to expect. Luckily, it looked (and SMELLED!) fantastic.
The morning prep involved a quick pickling of carrots and daikon. I have eaten daikon a few times in my life, but I didn’t realize that, when raw, it looks like a giant white carrot. I’ve never really cooked with daikon before, though it’s very popular in Vietnamese cuisine. Turns out, it tastes a bit like a bitter raddish when raw.
I’m not the best with a knife, so we peeled both with a peeler and used the shavings for the veggies.
The next step was to soak it in vinegar, sugar, and water for 30 minutes (or up to overnight).
We got parbaked bread from Fresh Direct and heated it up as the last prep step.
Next up was assembly. I spread it with mayo and the pickled veggies.
Then the meat and some more veggies and cilantro on top.
So how was it? Well… even my pork-protesting sister enjoyed it if that says anything. I thought it was delicious, but it wouldn’t be able to compete with the Nom Nom Truck’s sandwich.
It was a lot of fun, however, to do something so out of my comfort zone and try new techniques. I can’t wait to try some more challenges! Keep ‘em coming Project Food Blog!
(And don’t forget to watch The Wendy Williams Show on Tuesday!!!!)