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Here at Sensei Cooks I write about my adventures in the kitchen and sometimes in the dojo.

I have a love for cooking and want to explore all the possible facets of it. Leave no stone unturned so to speak.

I am Vegan and love all types of vegan cooking.

I love the process of cooking. Being in the moment. Sort of Zen and the Art of Cooking.

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Banh Mi Thit Nguoi

Belle brought this book Banh Mi home from the library and knowing how much Sean loves sandwiches I asked him to pick one so I could make it for dinner. I took a quick look first and realized most of the meat dishes required a day in advance preparation. Little did I know how much work goes into these sandwiches. After making this one (I loved the process), I understand why they are becoming very popular and why people prefer to pay for someone else to make it.

But that being said, I would and will make more of these.

Sean chose Thit Nguoi, Vietnamese-style cold cuts. I thought I would make the whole sandwich from scratch including the baguette and all the condiments that go inside. The baguettes did not turn out as planned, they required two days of making and proofing but when they were ready to bake I held off for another 4-5 hours and I believe that is where I went wrong. I should have baked them right away. They turned out okay but the risen baguettes fell in that 4-5 hours and then did not bake up light but instead they were pretty dense.

According to the assembly instructions, spread a layer of pate on one side of the bun, a layer of lime mayonnaise on the other side. Then fill it with the cold cuts (Thit Nguoi) and a sliced sausage (Cha Lau) and sliced jalapeno, cucumber and pickled condiment of your choice. I made Pickled carrots and daikon (Do Chau) all on the Banh Mi baguette.



Banh Mi Thit Nguoi
adapted from Banh Mi by Jacqueline Pham

Here is the adventure.

Banh Mi Baguette:

2 c water, divided
1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 c rice flour
3 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp fine sea salt


1. Warm 1/4 c water to 105-120 degrees F and combine with yeast, honey and baking powder in a large bowl or mixing  bowl.

2. Add the rice flour, 1 cup of the all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup of water. Mix to form a dough, leave it covered in a warm place overnight.

3. In a mixing bowl add the starter from last night, remaining flour, salt and 1 cup of water. Knead with dough hook for about 10 minutes or until you have a soft dough. (adjust with 1-2 tablespoons of water if too dry) Cover with a a towel in a warm place for 3 hours.

4. Remove the dough and knead for 1 minute, then divide into 10 even pieces and form each piece into a oval shape about 5” long, cover with towel and let sit for 30 minutes.

5. With a razor blade, cut one long incision down the length of each oval at a 45 degree angle, proof one final time for 15 minutes.

6. Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees F. Place an oven proof dish with 1 cup of water in the oven 15 minutes prior to baking.

7. When the oven reaches  475 degrees F. remove the dish, and using a spray bottle, spray cold water on the oven walls. Reduce the oven to 425 degrees F and bake baguettes for 10 minutes.

8. Reduce the oven to 375 degrees F. and continue baking for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

9. Remove baguettes and let cool for 10 minutes, then make your banh mi sandwiches



Thit Nguoi (Cold Cuts):

1 1/4 lb pork belly (Ba Roi)
2 tbsp honey
3 cloves, freshly ground
1 tsp sea salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp ginger, freshly grated
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 c water


1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Place meat in a re-sealable bag and pour in marinade. Place bag in fridge over night.

2. Remove meat and discard marinade.

3. Place meat fat side down, pat dry and then roll into a long cylinder and secure with kitchen string in at least three places.

4. Prepare a steamer over boiling water, place roll in the steamer, cover and reduce heat to medium-high. Steam for 2 hours. (check on the water as required)

5. Remove the roll, let cool to room temperature and then chill over night in fridge.

6. remove roll, remove strings and slice very thinly


Chicken Bologna Sausage (Cha Lua Ga Chien):

2 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tbsp grated rock sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp luke warm water
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 lb chicken thighs, boneless & skinless
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp whole white peppercorns
4 10” x 10” frozen banana leaves, thawed
3/4 tsp sea salt


1. Combine the tapioca starch, rock sugar, baking powder and the water, mix well and let sit for 15 minutes.

2. In a small skillet, cook the shallots in the 1 tbsp of oil until soft but not coloured too much.

3. Place the chicken in a food processor and process. Add the starch solution (binding agent), shallots, fish sauce, ground white pepper and salt. Process until well mixed and quite small. (add water by the tablespoon if required to make blending easier. You can also process it until it is mixed, then separate the mixture and process in two batches to make it easier.

4. Place meat in a bowl, and stir in the whole peppercorns, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

5. Lay out the banana leaves, wipe with hot water to ensure they will be pliable. Pat dry. Divide the chicken mixture into 4 and roll each portion in a banana leaf into a cigar shape about 1” thick. Tie up the leaves with kitchen string, including end to end so the sausage mixture cannot come out.

6. Prepare a steamer over boiling water and steam the sausages, covered for 1 hour. (check on water level as required)

7. Remove from steamer, let cool a little then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

8. Unwrap the sausages, discard leaver and strings, and fry in the 1 tsp of oil over high heat for a couple of minutes to get some colour.

9. Cut the sausages into thick slices.

IMG_2146  IMG_2147


Pate (Ba Te Gan Xay):

1 lb chicken livers
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 cup milk
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 shallots, chopped
1/2 white onion, sliced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp sea salt, divided
1 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 c dry white wine
1/2 c water
1 tbsp brandy (or cognac)
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
1/4 cu heavy cream
1/8 tsp red chili powder
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper


1. Prepare livers. If required, trim and remove any white membrane or fatty residue from each liver.

2. Place livers in a bowl and just cover with salted water and the white vinegar. Soak for 5 minutes.

3. Rinse livers, transfer to new bowl and add the milk, mix well and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Drain but do not rinse livers.

4. Cook the livers. Heat oil in wok or skillet over med-high heat add garlic for 1 minute. Add butter and shallots, onion and bay leaves.  Cook for 5 minutes.

5. Add livers, 1 tsp salt, white pepper, sugar, white wine and water. Stir well and bring to the boil. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until livers change colour but don’t overcook.

6. Add brandy, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves.

7. Pour the mixture through a strainer (leaving everything except the liquid, or use a slotted spoon to remove solids). Place solids in a food processor. Process while slowly adding the butter a few tablespoons at a time until you have used 3/4 cup.

8. Add the cream and blend until creamy and firm.

9. Melt the remaining butter in a small pot or microwave.

10. Place the pate into a tupperware container, smooth the top and then pour the melted butter over top, sprinkle the pepper over top, cover with lid and chill to set pate in fridge for at least 4 hours.


Pickled Carrots and Daikon (Do Chua):

1 white onion, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 tsp sea salt, divided
1/2 – 3/4 c white vinegar
2 small carrots, peeled and the sliced thin with peeler, cut into 2” pieces
1 large daikon, peeled and the sliced very thin with peeler and cut into 2” pieces by 1/2”
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar


1. Place the sliced onion in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt, let sit for 1 hour. Press out, drain and rinse and drain again.

2. Dissolve the remaining salt in the vinegar.

3. Place carrots and daikon in a large bowl, sprinkle with sugar. Add the vinegar & salt mixture. Let sit for 15 minutes.

4. Add onions and mix well. Drain the vegetables but reserve the liquid

5. Place the vegetables in Mason jars or in a large tupperware. Fill the jars or tupperware with the reserved liquid, topping up with water.

6. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour but for optimum flavour allow 4 days.


Lime Mayonnaise (Sot Ma Do Ne):

1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/3 – 1/2 c olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp red chili powder (optional)
** All ingredients should be at room temperature

1. In a blender whisk the egg yolk, add the vinegar, honey, mustard and lime.

2. With the blender running, very slowly add the oil in a very slow and continuous stream.

3. Thin the mayonnaise with lime juice if required. Season with salt and chili (if using).

4. Pour mayonnaise into small bowl and cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

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