as of today, there are seven weeks until culinary school. today is also the last wednesday, the last week, of my current job. things are about to dramatically shift, tectonic plates colliding.
it some ways, it makes perfect sense. i graduated high school with a dismal gpa and no real direction. I'd had a vague idea throughout school that i'd head off to california after graduation and study to become an animator. i loved art and had a relative knack with a pencil, but i quickly learned after a season of doing commissions, that i hated tailoring my work to others' requirements. i had fallen for my first real girlfriend, who had blue eyes and a scar on her left hand in the shape of florida. i decided to stay in michigan for the fall semester. that semester became a year, a year turned into five, five years turned into a decade. during those ten years, i almost got married twice, forgot nearly all of my high school french, and spent my days as a moderately sarcastic bookseller. i learned to like bacon. my drink of choice went from gin & tonics to whiskey on the rocks. occasionally, i paid my bills on time like the adult i pretended to be.
the one thing i never found was my creative outlet.
i have always wanted to leave the world different from the way i found it. indeliably marked. i get excited by fresh paper and office supplies, piles of rice and uncut vegetables. these are the blank pieces of paper, i am ready to create something. leave my name.
i like to recreate things. put my name on a special iteration. take things apart and put them back together again, with a slight spin on it.
one of the things i like about deconstruction of classic dishes is to break them apart and see what is integral to the dish and what is not. at what point does something cease to become even remotely related to itself? with the bánh mi, the key component is actually - the bread. bánh, in vietnamese, means bread. while the meat filling is varied (cold cuts, head cheese, chicken, tuna, and so on), the dish always seems to include the baguette, chiles, pickled vegetables, and that creamy, tangy spread. so, while these points are fixed, we can play with the filling, with the balance of flavor, and with the construction of the dish.
4 oz ahi tuna
1 large carrot, julienned
1 daikon, julienned
1 english cucumber sliced lengthwise
1 scallion, sliced thinly
4 cups arugula or other bitter green
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 baguette, sliced diagonally
1/4 cup ponzu
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp mayonnaise (preferably kewpie mayo)
3 tbsp sriracha
salt & pepper to taste
at least two hours before, in a medium bowl, combine the julienned carrots and daikon with rice wine vinegar, kosher salt, water and sugar. place in refrigerator. allow to pickle for at least 2 hours, although it's better if given an entire day.
place the tuna in a sealable plastic bag or shallow bowl with the ponzu. allow to marinate for at least ten minutes. heat a nonstick skillet on the stove over high heat until surface is hot. add tuna. cook for approximately 1-2 minutes on each side, depending on how rare you prefer your tuna. remove from heat and slice thinly.
combine the mayo and sriracha in a small bowl. set aside. in another small non-reactive bowl, combine white wine vinegar, lime juice, and olive oil. add salt and pepper to taste and whisk briskly to combine. toss the greens and cilantro with this mixture and arrange on plate with cucumber, tuna slices, jalapeno slices, and scallions. place carrot & daikon pickles in the center.
serve with baguette slices and mayo mixture.