I planted cilantro in the front garden this year and it’s really thriving. I’m excited because it’s the first time I’ve had any success with it and it’s one of my favorite herbs. Cilantro’s one of those flavors that polarizes people: you either love it or loathe it. It turns out that the people who loathe it might actually be genetically predisposed to do so. (Julia Child apparently falls into this category. She also hated arugula, one of my other most favorite green things. Oh well. We can’t agree on everything.) I am not among that population, and, happily, neither is Paul so I can throw the bright green, grassy leaves into everything I cook all summer long.
Today was grocery day and I decided to shop with this delightful ingredient in mind. I’ll be doing the same thing with my burgeoning basil and Thai basil plants as it gets further into summer (and tomato season!). Tonight I made the Vietnamese sandwiches called Banh Mi–-something I’ve always drooled over in cookbooks but somehow have never actually had the opportunity to try. Well, no more!
The components are simple: get the best baguette you can find–the kind with the shattering crust that cuts the top of your mouth when you bite into it– slather it with mayonnaise, and fill it with marinated meat (mine were pork), sliced cucumbers, a marinated slaw of carrots and daikon radish (which I did not have, so used regular red ones), sliced jalapenos for heat (I tweaked this a bit too, using my beloved sambal oeleck as I often do when chilis are needed), and lots and lots of cilantro. Here’s the recipe I followed, and I thought it was delicious even if, truth be told, I had rather mediocre baguette.
Turned out we wanted more heat, so we drizzled some sriracha on at table. Oh, and a squeeze of lime. Totally forgot to cut up the watermelon I was planning to serve with it, but I bet that would have been a great accompaniment. If I have my way (and I will, because I am the cook around here!), we will be eating these a lot during the hot summer months.