Anatomy of a Dish: Banh Mi Poutine
At his new restaurant, The Gorbals, in Williamsburg, Top Chef winner Ilan Hall can add one more title to his resume: Stoner Food Champion.
His Banh Mi Poutine ($14) was inspired by a toke: The L.A. outpost of the restaurant, opened in 2009, used to serve a banh mi sandwich. After smoking a joint in the restaurant's back alley one night after service—"behavior I in no way condone," Hall jokes—two line cooks, riddled with the munchies, took the sandwich's fillings and piled them on top of fries.
After realizing they'd discovered late-night snacking gold, they told Hall about their mash-up.
"I played with the elements, and they just worked," Hall says. "It's not necessarily even my favorite dish on the menu, but it's craveable. Once you start eating it, you can't stop."
1. Hall geeked out on the thrice-cooked fries, which have already gotten attention in L.A. To make them, he brines and simmers Kennebec potatoes in salt, sugar, garlic and fresh dill. They're then blanched in peanut oil, frozen—which "helps the outside get really crisp, while the inside just warms up"—and fried again at a higher temperature before serving.
2. "Hillbilly sous vide" is how Hall describes cooking the spicy, super-tender chunks of Vietnamese-style pork: A whole shoulder is mummified in layers of plastic wrap and foil, then roasted low and slow for 15 hours on a wood-fired grill. After cooling in the bag, the meat is pulled apart and tossed in a simple-but-rich gravy of dark chicken stock and hoisin sauce.
3. House-made pickled carrots and Persian cucumbers and some fried jalapeños add crunch and acid to the fried-and-meaty mess.
4. The entire dish is drizzled with a little Sriracha and a house-made Kewpie-style mayo, which starts with a bonito flake and kombu dashi and incorporates rice vinegar and lemon. "This isn't a light dish," Hall says, "so the lemon brightens it up."
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