One of the French legacy in Cambodia is the baguette. We eat it with la-vache-qui-rit, the famous cream cheese spread, with grilled chicken or beef ragout, with sweetened condensed milk, canned sardines with tomato sauce, butter and granulated sugar (try it, wonderful to have the sugar crunch under your teeth) but if you have a crave in the afternoon, you can grab the nom-pang-paté (baguette and liver paté) or nom-pang-sach-ko-ang (baguette with skewer grilled beef) from the street seller. Is there a better acknowledgement of the French legacy than the name of the bread itself? "nom pang" is an appropriation of the word "pain" (bread in French) that our elders mispronouned by "pang". "nom" meaning "cake". There are many varieties of sandwiches but I particularly like the one with the beef skewers. I find it quick and easy to prepare when we have friends at home and at the same time healthy with its mix of salad, cucumber, veggies pickle and coriander leaves. It's also fun when you let guests prepare their own sandwiches. Here is how we prepare it at home for about 10-20 guests (coz we never count really).
- 2 kg (4 pounds) of beef (sirloin), sliced lengthwise of about 3 mm thick or in a cube format
- For the marinade "kroeung": pound together 2 cups of sliced lemongrass; one thumb of galangal, sliced; 2 fingers of turmeric, sliced; 10 kaffir lime leaves, sliced; Once these are well pounded, add 10 cloves of garlic cut into small pieces; 5 shallots, sliced. Don't use a robot, the perfume from the spices are incomparable.
- Mix well the beef with the kroeung, add salt, fish sauce 'teuk trey' and let it marinate for 3-4 hours
- Put the beef on skewers, cook over charcoal barbecue. Brush regularly with the sauce mixed with a bit of oil to keep the moisture of the beef.
- Use about 1/4 of a papaya lenghtewise; Shred the papaya
- Shred 2 carrots lengthwise or in other forms
- Slice one daikon
- To keep the vegetables crunchy: put these in a colander, sprinkle a handful of coarse salt over, let the water drain out for about 10 min, rinse well with cold water, pat dry with an absorbing cloth.
- Pickle the shredded vegetables in rice vinegar (Kikkoman brand). If you want to prepare your own vinegar: mix well 1 cup of water, 1 cup of vinegar, 1 tbs of sugar and 1 tsp of salt. Taste the mixture so it is not too sour, too salty, then add the shredded vegetables. They are ready for the sandwiches.
- One bunch of lettuce (crunchy type like batavia): clean and dry lettuces; use only the leaves and save the harder parts for other dishes; cut the leaves to be about the length/width of the sandwich serving size;
- 4 persian cucumbers (firm ones): slice lengthwise, of about 2 mm thick
- One bunch of cilantro: clean and dry; leave the whole sprig for serving
- Mix 1 cup of mayonnaise with half cup of sriracha
- Soy sauce (Maggie Knorr preferred)
For the sandwiches
- The baguette in Cambodia has a crisp crust that the street seller rebake a few minutes before serving you a sandwich
- Count 2 servings per guests so about 10 baguettes for 20 guests (a standard baguette is about 60 cm long or 24 inches according to the French law)
- Open the bread on the side.
- Spread the mayonnaise on one side of the bread
- Sprinkle the maggie sauce on the other side
- Put a lettuce leaf, the beef skewer (remove the bamboo stick), the slice of cucumber, the pickled vegetables, two springs of coriander
- Close the sandwich by pressing gently on the two sides and serve !
I hope you will enjoy the sandwich as much as we do at home !