Cook the Book

Salmon Banh Mi From 'Vibrant Food'

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[Photograph: Kimberley Hasselbrink]

I like to think I was into banh mi (the now ubiquitous Vietnamese sandwich) before banh mi was hip, but I'm ashamed to say I don't think I'd ever made a proper one at home. That is, I hadn't until I recently tested Kimberley Hasselbrink's eye-catching version from her new cookbook, Vibrant Food. It's a super-appealing take: she uses fish sauce-marinated salmon instead of traditional pork, which lightens the sandwich while still providing a touch of fatty richness. This balances the clean, fresh flavors of the fixings—gorgeous, perky pickled vegetables; plenty of herbs; a drizzle of the garlicky, spicy marinade; and a zesty slathering of aïoli. It's a sandwich I can see myself making many more times this summer.

Why I picked this recipe: It was about time I made my own darn banh mi, and using salmon sounded like a clever twist.

What worked: This is just an extremely tasty sandwich! All the components are on-point and in balance.

What didn't: I found that there wasn't quite enough pickling liquid to submerge the vegetables properly. I would double the pickling solution, or be prepared to toss the veggies frequently as they sit. Also, the measurements for fresh herbs per sandwich are awkward: one tablespoon of whole basil leaves is a little goofy. Just divide the herbs evenly among the sandwiches.

Suggested tweaks: Hasselbrink broils the salmon, but it would be amazing grilled, too. And while you should absolutely try this with the salmon, I think the marinade would work beautifully with chicken thighs or your meat of choice.

As usual with Cook the Book, we have 5 copies of Vibrant Food to give away this week.

Reprinted with permission from Vibrant Food, written and photographed by Kimberley Hasselbrink (Ten Speed Press, © 2014).

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