It’s a questionable decision for me to even be here right now. I’m supposed to turn my full dissertation in to my committee in two (two!!!!) days, which means I am quite literally a crazy person and there’s no telling what will come out of my mouth other than that it is likely to either be an overreaction to something trivial, or something about stepwise regression, or about how I hate all my research and it doesn’t have any health implications at all, ahhh! (and then I may burst into tears).
These last two weeks have been spent swimming in a sea of stress and track changes. My diet has consisted, to an embarrassingly large extent, of wine and cake.
Now all the writing and editing is pretty much finished and I’ve moved into formatting land, which is basically as stressful as all the rest of it because the school states formatting requirements in terms like this: “Tufts University requires that the dissertation have a left margin of 1.5 inches; all other margins must be one inch… Students should also note that photocopying results in slight enlargement of the copied text. This enlargement must be accounted for to allow the final version of the dissertation to meet margin requirements. A dissertation can be rejected by the University for failure to meet the margin requirements.”
Seriously? I thought I was trying to get a PhD in food policy, not in using MS Word and its various margin, and page numbering, and cross-referencing functions. Mostly I’m all up in arms about it because I’m truly terrible at formatting.
In spite of all this, I’m surfacing here for one reason: bánh mì bowls. Amidst the cake and the wine, I made these and I’m here to say, they were so good. I recognize that “bánh mì bowl” is a contradiction in terms because bánh mì refers to the bread the sandwiches are usually made on. But, I had a suspicion that the fillings of a bánh mì, all rich and salty-sweet and spicy, and punctuated with crisp pickles, would be awfully good on top of a pile of rice. And would allow the eater to compose carefully balanced forkfuls or stir everything together into a giant flavorful mess, depending on their personal eating style. I was right. It is good.
Now, back to my margin widths I go…
- For the pickles:
- ¾ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 heaping cup julienned carrot
- 1 heaping cup julienned daikon radish
- For the pork belly:
- 1 Tbs. peanut oil
- 2 lbs. pork belly, cut into 1-inch chunks (it'll be different, but if you can't find pork belly, you could actually sub in thick-cut bacon and it'd still be tasty)
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbs. grated ginger
- 2 Tbs. fish sauce
- 2 Tbs. soy sauce
- 3 Tbs. maple syrup
- For assembly:
- about 3 cups cooked rice
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tbs. sriracha
- 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
- thinly sliced cucumber and radishes
- cilantro sprigs
- To make the pickles, heat the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a sauce pan until boiling, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Put the carrot and daikon in a heat proof bowl and pour the pickling liquid on top. Let it sit and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to use.
- To make the pork, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for about 3 minutes, until starting to soften, then stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute, until quite fragrant.
- Add the pork belly pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce, and maple syrup, and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Then, add in about 1 cup of water (or enough to just cover the pork), turn the heat down to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes (add a couple spoonfuls of water at any point if needed to keep the pan from drying out). At this point the pork should be quite tender and covered with a caramelly sauce.
- To assemble bowls, first stir together the mayo and sriracha to make sriracha mayo. Divid the rice between four bowls. Top each bowl with some meat and sauce, a big dollop of sriracha mayo, a big scoop of pickles, plus some sliced cukes, radishes, jalapeno, a spoonful of kimchi, and sprigs of cilantro. Serve!