Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Building on Layers of Tradition

MMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmm. Love every layer! Especially the PATE!

Source: NY Times

FRED HUA’S banh mi pho does not look like a cultural revolution. But in its juicy, messy way, it is. Served at Nha Toi in Brooklyn, where he is the chef and owner, banh mi pho is stuffed with the ingredients for pho, the sacred soup of Vietnam: beef scented with star anise and cinnamon, fresh basil and crunchy bean sprouts.

“I could never get away with this in San Jose,” said Mr. Hua, referring to the city with a large Vietnamese-American community in Northern California, where he grew up. “New York has a history of being open to creative ideas.”

At 31, Mr. Hua is part of a rising generation of American cooks of Vietnamese descent who are tinkering with a once-rigid culinary tradition.

They start by reinventing the banh mi — the classic street-vendor Vietnamese-French sandwich. They are taking it back to its roots with house-cured meats that blend French, Vietnamese and Chinese influences, but also nudging it forward with cross-cultural fillings (Polish sausage), local breads (crisp rolls from Parisi Bakery in Little Italy), and American influences like the sloppy Joe.

“My mother worked so hard to recreate the flavors of Vietnam in America,” said Vinh Nguyen, the 29-year-old owner of Silent H, a few blocks away from Nha Toi. “We are doing it our way, but with respect.”

If you haven’t tried a classic banh mi, imagine all the cool, salty, crunchy, moist and hot contrasts of a really great bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Then add a funky undertone of pork liver and fermented anchovy, a gust of fresh coriander and screaming top notes of spice, sweetness and tang.

I would to try a Pho Banh Mi, or a Polish Banh Mi or an OPA Banh Mi. You can pretty much put anything in a baguette.

1 comment:

Roger Williams said...

Mouth watering goodness in every bite!