Addictive Beef Jerky and Papaya Salad Sandwich from Banh Mi by Jacqueline Pham

Not sure this addictive sandwich from  Banh Mi 75 Banh Mi Recipes for Authentic & Delicious Vietnamese Sandwiches (Adams Media, July 2013) by Phamfatale Jacqueline Pham pairs well with Thai Basil Seed Drink we shared previously from same book.

Beef Jerky and Papaya Salad
Gỏi Đu Đủ Khô Bò

Yields 6 servings

Vietnamese beef jerky is very addictive. Although the meat is sufficiently preserved and dried to
allow safe storage at room temperature, the texture remains malleable enough to shred into pieces
to fill a sandwich. Salt is the key ingredient; it draws out moisture and preserves the beef for long
storage. However, this jerky is so good that it won’t last long, especially when it’s paired with pickled
papaya.

4 red Thai chile peppers
2 pounds flank steak, or your favorite cut
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cloves, freshly ground
2 tablespoons Cognac (optional)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 drop red food coloring (optional)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¹⁄³ cup Fish Sauce (Nước Mắm Chấm; see Chapter 6), plus more for garnish
1 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
¹⁄³ cup honey, warmed
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
6 tablespoons Pickled Papaya (Gỏi Đu Đủ; see Chapter 6)
2 tablespoons Thai basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons Vietnamese mint leaves, coarsely chopped

Beef Jerky

1. Preparing the chiles: Stem the chiles. Using a paring knife, cut a 2"–3" slit in the peppers. Remove some of the seeds (to reduce heat), and finely chop. Place in a mortar and pestle and mash into a coarse paste.

2. Preparing the meat: Place the beef in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Thinly slice the meat (depending on your preference, ¹⁄8"–¼"-thick), using a sharp chef’s knife. Make sure to cut the meat with the grain. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

3. Seasoning the meat: In a large mixing bowl, combine the garlic powder, cloves, Cognac (if using), sugar, red food coloring (if using), chiles, 1 tablespoon of the oil, ¹⁄³ cup fish sauce, and soy sauce. Stir well. Pat the meat dry with paper towels, and then add the meat to the bowl. Mix until evenly coated. Seal and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight (up to 2 days).

4. Drying the meat: If you own a dehydrator, grease the trays with a little vegetable oil and arrange the beef, spreading the pieces so they’re flat without covering each other. Follow the instructions for the machine (7 hours at 150°F is typical). If you don’t have a dehydrator, arrange the meat on 2 oiled
racks placed on top of 2 cookie sheets (to collect the excess liquid). It’s fine if the slices touch each other, as they will shrink while drying. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Bake meat for 20 minutes, then turn the slices with tongs and lower the temperature to 200°F. Bake for 20–30 minutes more, until the beef looks dried out but remains malleable. To guarantee the perfect texture without too much moisture, leave the oven open slightly while baking; simply use a silicone oven mitt or any heatproof object to hold the door open.

5. Sweetening the beef jerky: In a small bowl, combine the warm honey with 2 teaspoons of the vegetable oil. Stir well.
Brush a thin layer of honey onto the slices and sprinkle with lightly toasted sesame seeds. Return to the oven at 180°F for 40–45 minutes (with the oven slightly open, as in the previous step). The jerky should be slightly sticky but not hard. You can store the beef jerky in airtight containers for up to 2 months, or for several months in sealable bags in the refrigerator.

6. Assembly time: If the beef jerky is cold, reheat the beef slices on a greased grill, flipping the beef with chopsticks until both sides are slightly toasted and warm. Let it cool for about 30 seconds, then snip it into thin strips using kitchen shears. Add the pickled papaya (gỏi đu đủ) with as little moisture as possible (pat dry). Toss thoroughly. Set aside for about 10 minutes. Drain and discard the liquid; otherwise the mixture will be too watery and the sandwich will turn soggy. When you’re ready to serve, add the chopped Thai basil and Vietnamese mint. Toss well.

7. Sandwich assembly: Use 1 baguette per serving. Cut lengthwise into the baguette and remove some of the crumb.
Spread a thin layer of softened butter on one side and Lime Mayonnaise (Sốt Ma Dô Ne; see Chapter 6) on the other. Fill with the beef jerky/papaya mixture. Drizzle with nước mắm chấm. Add thinly sliced jalapeño pepper and the condiment(s) of your choice, such as Pickled Garlic (Tỏi Chua Ngọt; see Chapter 6). Garnish with 2 sprigs of cilantro. Close the sandwich tightly.

(Excerpted from Banh Mi by Jacqueline Pham, Copyright © 2013 by F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.)

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