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Friday, May 10, 2013 - Nibbles | Food & drink

Recipe: Pork and chicken-liver pate bahn mi

By Michael A. Gardiner
bahnmi Homemade bahn mi
- Photo by Michael Gardiner
In my article in this week's Summer Guide, I wrote about my return to the Morley Field Velodrome. Befitting my status update from bicycle racer to San Diego CityBeat food writer, the purpose of my visit was a picnic—and the focus of my picnic was this homemade pork and chicken-liver pâté bánh mì.

Nothing in the recipe is particularly difficult, and several shortcuts are available. For one thing, there's absolutely nothing wrong with making the bánh mì (which is, after all, just a Vietnamese sandwich) using pâté purchased at a store such as Whole Foods, pre-made pickled carrot and daikon (available at Thuong Phat market in Linda Vista) and bread other than the classic 8-inch French baguettes from K Sandwiches on Linda Vista Road. But it is more fun to make it the authentic way: 

Carrot and daikon pickle
* 1/2 pound of carrots, julienned 
* 1/2 pound daikon radish, julienned 
(pre-cut carrots and daikons are available in most Asian groceries such as 99 Ranch and Thuong Phat) 
* 3 tablespoons sugar 
* 2 tablespoons salt 
* 4 cups water, warm enough to dissolve the salt and sugar 
* 6 tablespoons distilled vinegar 

In large pitcher or bowl, mix water, vinegar, sugar and salt till everything's dissolved and well-combined. Place carrots and daikon in a clean, sterile jar and fill with vinegar. Cover the jar and set in the refrigerator to pickle for at least three days so that the carrots and daikon become more flavorful and sour. (Pickles can last for about three weeks in the fridge.)

Pork and chicken-liver pâté:
* 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs 
* 1/2 cup water 
* 1 pound chicken livers 
* 1 pound ground pork 
* 2 tablespoons brown sugar 
* 1 tablespoon fish sauce (3 Crabs brand is my favorite) 
* 1 clove garlic, minced 
* 2 tablespoons whiskey or cognac 

Pre-heat the oven to 325° and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Clean the chicken livers by removing any brown or green trimmings and fatty vestiges. Thoroughly combine the water and the bread crumbs in a mixing bowl and set aside. Put all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the “S” blade and purée until smooth. Put the pâté mixture into a terrine, loaf pan or ceramic baking pan (use more than one terrine if necessary). Cover the terrine with aluminum foil, set it in a baking pan and pour enough warm water around it to come at least three-quarters of the way up the side of the terrine. Bake for two hours, or until the pâté reaches an internal temperature of about 145°. Remove from the water bath and allow to cool to room temperature. 

Southeast Asian mayonnaise
* 1 egg, yolk and white 
* 1 egg, yolk only 
* 2 limes, juiced 
* 1 1/2 cups grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil, such as peanut, canola or vegetable) 
* 1 tablespoon fish sauce 
* 1 to 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce (to taste) 

Combine the egg, egg yolk and lime juice in a food processor fitted with the “S” blade and process until combined. Add the oil in a slow and steady stream with the food processor running. Add the fish sauce and Sriracha sauce. Adjust the seasoning to taste. 

* 2 sandwich-sized French baguettes 
* Fresh cilantro 

Cut six slices of the pâté (there will be plenty of leftovers to impress friends who are impressed by such delicious frivolities). Slice the French baguettes in half lengthwise, brushing each half with the mayonnaise. Add a layer of the pâté slices and top with about 1/4 cup of the carrot-daikon pickle. Cut the bánh mì in half, vertically, open a beverage of your choosing and enjoy the races.

Michael blogs at You can follow him on twitter at @MAGARDINER