Banh mi are Vietnamese sandwiches that have taken the West Coast by storm. They are served on crusty baguettes, spread with a little mayo, and stuffed with pickled vegetables and a filling of your choice. Tofu is usually on the menu, though vegetarians still have to watch out for fish sauce.
I’ve adapted the traditional banh mi into a little two-bite crostini that makes a great appetizer. It will really wake up your palate with bright flavors and crunchy textures. If you can’t find chanterelle or other wild mushrooms, a thin slab of well-fried tofu would also be delicious, or you could use portobello mushrooms, cut into pieces that will sit nicely atop your baguette slices.
- 12 small pieces ServingsServings
FOR THE PICKLED VEGETABLES
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 whole star anise
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 thin round slices daikon
- 1/2 cup julienned carrot (about one 6-inch carrot, cut into pieces about 1 1/2 inches long then thinly sliced)
FOR THE SEASONED MAYONNAISE
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha or similar thick Asian chile sauce
TO COMPLETE THE DISH
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon minced lemongrass, tender white parts only
- 12 small chanterelle mushrooms (or cut larger ones to appropriate size)
- Kosher salt
- 12 slices baguette, each about 3⁄8 inch thick
- 12 slices cucumber, peeled if the skin is tough
- 12 sprigs fresh cilantro (smaller than your baguette slices)
- 12 paper-thin slices jalapeño pepper, seeds removed
- Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
1. For the pickled vegetables: Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, kosher salt, star anise, and a few grinds of black pepper in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is nearly boiling and the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and stir in the daikon and carrot. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 day.
2. For the seasoned mayonnaise: Mix together the mayonnaise and hot sauce.
3. To complete the dish: Place a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and when it is hot, add the lemongrass, chanterelle mushrooms, and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring a couple of times, until the mushrooms are tender and lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
4. Toast the baguette slices until very lightly browned. They should still be more soft than crunchy.
5. Spread each piece of baguette with 1 teaspoon of the seasoned mayonnaise. Top with 1 slice of the pickled daikon and 1 slice of cucumber, followed by a few pickled carrots. Top that with 1 mushroom, a sprig of cilantro, a slice of jalapeño, and a few flakes of sea salt. Serve immediately.
Tip: Get Organize. There are a lot of ingredients to put on each crostini, so have them all lined up and ready to go. It will be more efficient if you first spread all the crostini with the mayo, then add the daikon to all of them and so forth.