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. And for my own fun, a side of sweet potato fries. Because what goes better with a sandwich than fries? That’s right. NOTHING.
A note about the khao jee: I didn’t make an additional chili-garlic sauce because I still have some of that left from Burma. Since my fridge already looks like a place where condiments go to die, I didn’t want to add another to the mix. However, I’ve provided the recipe I got from Food and Wine should you feel so inclined to make it.
For the Sausage:
Adapted from Hmong Can Cook
Makes about 2 feet worth of sausage patties
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
¼ tsp sugar
1. Mix everything together well to evenly disperse all the ingredients. Form into patties.
2. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. I didn’t feel like I needed to add any extra oil because of the pork and the type of pan I used, but if you are afraid things will get sticky, add a bit of oil. Cook the patties on about 5 minutes per side until cooked through. Let rest about 5 minutes before putting the sandwich together.
The way the lighting looks in this picture makes me think there should be angels singing “Ahhhh” while it cooks. Just my observation.
Adapted from Food and Wine
4 6 inch lengths of baguette, split and toasted
1 bunch watercress, thick stems discarded
2 medium tomatoes
1 cup coarsely chopped and shredded carrots
Red-Chili sauce (recipe below)
For the Chili Sauce
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
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.
I’m not going to insult your intelligence by telling you how to fill a sandwich.
Have at it!