I love sandwiches SO MUCH.
They are the best food because the possibilities are…well, I’m not going to do the math, but I’m pretty sure the answer would be endless. Looking back, it’s hard to believe in the last year I’ve only made three for you: The Fluffernutter, THE BEST SANDWICH EVER and the Gyro.
Today I’m adding another to the list, and it’s sort of a two-fer, combining two of Laos’ signature dishes into one meaty Oreo.
It seems to be that, like Singapore, much of Laos’ favorite cuisines come from the street. And when you’re on the go, there’s nothing easier to grab and go than a sandwich.
The first part of this dish is a Loatian sausage, or Sai Oua or Sai Gog. It’s made with a specific proportion of pork and pork fat, and seasoned with the flavors we’ve come to know and love from this part of the world: garlic, shallots, ginger, lemon grass and fish sauce.
Now, a note about how I made this sausage: I’m going for flavor, and not necessarily fat, so rather than go with pork belly and pork shoulder as the original recipe I found suggested, I simply got ground pork from the butcher, which turned out to be fatty enough. Also, rather than squeeze this into a casing, I merely made long sausage patties. I’m not opposed to going the authentic route of filling hog casings, but I couldn’t find them in two grocery stores, and the flat patty worked better for what I was trying to do with this dish.
The second part of this plate is khao jee, the Laotian version of the Vietnamese Bánh Mì . Like the Bánh Mì, the Khao jee is served on a French baguette (no doubt a carryover from the French colonization and influence in the region). The sandwich is usually filled with chicken, topped with carrots and watercress and slathered with a chili sauce to bring it all together.
For me, I’m combining the two, filling a crusty baguette with the sausage and then topping it in the traditional khao jee way.
- 1 lb ground pork
- ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
- ¼ cup green onions, finely chopped
- 2 TB ginger, minced
- 2 TB lemon grass, white part only, minced
- 1 TB garlic
- 1 TB shallots, finely chopped
- ½ TB chili peppers, finely chopped
- 1 TB fish sauce
- ½ tsp salt
- 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced and separated into rings
- 3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup Korean coarse red pepper powder
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
- 4 6 inch lengths of baguette, split and toasted per person
- 1 bunch watercress, thick stems discarded
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 1 cup coarsely chopped and shredded carrots
- Onions (optional)
- In a small skillet, heat 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the shallot rings and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the shallot rings to a bowl. Add the garlic to the hot oil and cook over moderately low heat, stirring a few times, until golden, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to the bowl. Add the ginger to the skillet and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the red pepper powder and sugar and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Scrape the sauce into the bowl. Stir in the fish sauce and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Set aside.
- Preheat the grill or the broiler.
- Mix everything together well to evenly disperse all the ingredients. Divide the meat into four equal size pieces and roll into hot dog/sausage shapes.
- Cook on the grill for 10 minutes, give it a flip and cook for an additional 5 until the meat is cooked through. Alternatively, broil for 10 minutes on one side and give it a flip.
- Assemble each sandwich on a baguette with the mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sausage and chili sauce.