On my way home from the beach the other day, I was trying to figure out the prefect evening meal to finish a day dozing in the sand. I was in a daze, just having emerged from the long afternoon sun and from under the gauzy blanket of ocean sounds: the waves, muffled gossip from girls on a nearby blanket, scattered birds, and children with their cries and plastic shovels. I was craving something with real texture and strong spice. I wanted to carry over the feeling of Pacific breeze, warmth and ease into the evening. I kept thinking about the flavors of tamarind, soy, cilantro, and sesame. When I got home, I did something I rarely do: make a sandwich.
A favored sandwich of mine has long been the Bánh mì which is Vietnamese. It is traditionally a kind of pork sandwich but I’ve sampled numerous varieties (never pork though) from tofu, to fish, chicken and beef. Main components of sandwich are: a baguette, pickled carrot and diakon, fresh cucumber, cilantro, and mayo. I will always be pleasured to munch on baguette, so this seemed necessary for my post beach sandwich. I also thought that flank steak would make a tasty protein so I gave it a mental green light.
I didn’t have any pickled carrots on hand but what I did have and was very excited to use was radish slices I had picked a few days earlier in ume (plum) vinegar. I also sliced some cucumber, red onion, and carrot. Finally, I’m not a huge fan of mayo, so thought to make an avocado aioli to spread on the baguette. Good call! It was perfect.
Spicy Grilled Flank Steak Sandwich with Avocado Aioli
Makes about 4 sandwiches
1 lb. Flank Steak
1 T Tamarind Paste
1 T Sesame Oil
1 T Soy Sauce
1 T Sweet Chili Sauce
4 Garlic Cloves
1 tsp Chili Oil
2 T Chives, chopped
½ C Greek Yogurt
1 T Mayo
2 tsp Lemon Juice
1 Shallot, chopped
2 Fresh Thai Basil Leaves (or 2 tsp dried)
Fresh Cilantro Leaves, about 2 T chopped
1 Fresh Cucumber, cut into matchsticks
2 Carrots, shredded or julienned
½ Medium Red Onion, sliced thinly
Pickled Radish* recipe below
1 Par Baked Baguette
Sriracha for serving
Directions: Combine tamarind paste, sesame oil, soy sauce, chili sauce, garlic, chili oil, and chives in blender. Blend until smooth. Marinate flank steak in gallon size Ziploc bag with blended mixture in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Meanwhile, combine avocado, Greek yogurt, mayo, lemon juice, shallot, Thai basil, and cilantro in blender. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Remove steak from fridge. Prepare grill by oiling rack with a brush or rag. Cook steak over high heat for 4-6 minutes per side. Remove from heat, wrap in foil and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake baguette for 8-10 minutes on a rack centered in the oven until golden brown and “crusty” to the touch. Remove from oven and slice into 4 equal sections. When bread has cooled enough to handle, halve each section horizontally to prepare sandwich.
To assemble sandwich, remove steak from foil and cut into manageable pieces. Spread aioli on baguette (top and bottom slices) and layer with steak, radishes, cucumber, onion, and carrot. Serve with Sriracha hot sauce and a cold beer. Yum!
Ume Pickled Radishes
1 Bunch Radishes, washed and thinly sliced
½ C Ume Vinegar
½ C White Vinegar
¼ C Sugar
3 T Salt
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Mustard Seed
Directions: Combine all ingredients in an airtight glass jar and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using.