TORONTO — Talk about a slugger of a sandwich.
Thuy Nguyen Crawford of Burlington, Ont., won ACE Bakery’s “Canada’s Best Sandwich Contest” recently with a Lemongrass Steak Banh Mi and coleslaw inspired by her Vietnamese heritage and the need for hearty nosh at her 10-year-old son’s ball games.
“It’s a sandwich that I’ve been making for my eldest son for the baseball diamond and they love it,” said Crawford, 41, who’s married with three children.
“They said, ‘You should just enter (the contest),’ and I thought, ‘What do I have to lose?”‘
“This is a home run!” exclaimed celebrity chef Lynn Crawford, one of the contest judges, as she tried the winning dish in a cookoff at Toronto’s Calphalon Culinary Centre.
“Get rid of the hot dogs at the stadiums and let’s have that!” she said later with a laugh.
Crawford, the contest winner (who bears no relation to the aforementioned chef), took home $5,000 for herself and $5,000 for a charity of her choice. (She picked the Alzheimer Society of Hamilton and Halton because her mother has vascular dementia.)
That’s on top of the money she and the other three finalists from across Canada got for winning the regional contests ($1,000 for themselves and $1,000 for a charity of their choice).
Lemongrass Steak Banh Mi comprises marinated, grilled and sliced sirloin on a white baguette with a spicy garlic aioli. The marinade includes lemongrass, fish sauce, honey, garlic and Thai chili peppers.
Though the dish may sound fancy it’s actually simple to prepare, said the full-time mom, who also works part-time helping her husband run their IT business.
“It literally took me less than half an hour,” said Crawford, who came to Canada from Vietnam in 1980 and has no professional culinary training.
“I think that having a fast-paced life, like our kids and work, doesn’t mean that we can’t eat well.”
The other finalists, chosen from almost 1,000 recipe submissions, were: Montreal’s Mike Diciero and his breaded Italian veal cutlet with marinated vegetables on foccacia; Edmonton’s Christopher Delaney and his seared chicken thighs and thick smoky bacon with guacamole and cilantro on a roll; and Paul Arsenault of Lower Cloverdale, N.B., for his grilled and butter-basted lobster tail with Dijon aioli on olive loaf.
Chef Crawford, Gemini Award-nominated host of “Pitchin’ In” on Food Network Canada, was joined on the judging panel by ACE Bakery co-founder Linda Haynes and company master baker Marcus Mariathas.
They judged the dishes on three criteria: portability, ease of eating, and taste.
“I’m inspired,” said Crawford, owner of Toronto’s Ruby Watchco restaurant and the Ruby Eats store.
“You bet some of these recipes you’ll see at Ruby Eats.”
Lemongrass Steak Banh Mi
(makes four sandwiches)
2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
45 ml (3 tbsp) minced lemongrass
60 ml (4 tbsp) fish sauce
30 ml (2 tbsp) honey
1 red Thai chili, finely minced
453 g (1 lb) sirloin steak cut 5 cm (2 inches) thick. Choose a high quality steak with lots of marbling.
1 white baguette
Spicy Garlic Aioli (see recipe below)
Asian Coleslaw (see recipe below — prepare at least four hours before sandwich assembly)
In a container large enough to hold the steak, mix the garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce, honey and chili. Roll the steak in the marinade and marinate for at least three to four hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator.
Spicy Garlic Aioli
120 ml (1/2 cup) mayonnaise
15 ml (1 tbsp) Sriracha (rooster sauce ... increase or decrease based on your desire of spiciness)
1 small clove of garlic, finely minced
15 ml (1 tsp) fresh lemon juice
Mix all the ingredients together well.
The coleslaw should be made at least four hours (or overnight) before you are ready to assemble the sandwich. You can make extra to serve as a side salad or keep it overnight in the refrigerator.
45 ml (3 tbsp) fish sauce
45 ml (3 tbsp) sugar
1 garlic clove, finely minced
120 ml (1/2 cup) fresh cilantro, chopped in 2.5-cm (1-inch) lengths
1 Thai chili thinly sliced (increase or decrease based on your desire of spiciness)
720 ml (3 cups) shredded green cabbage
240 ml (1 cup) peeled shredded carrots
1 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced to make 120 ml (1/2 cup)
Mix the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and garlic together until the sugar is dissolved.
Combine the remaining ingredients together and mix well. Pour the vinaigrette over the coleslaw mixture and toss.
Preparing the sandwich:
Preheat BBQ or grill pan so that it is hot.
Grill the steak to your desired doneness, approximately three to four minutes per side for medium-rare. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes.
Cut the baguette into four equal portions. Slice the baguette pieces lengthwise, but not all the way through, and grill for about one minute until toasted.
Slice the steak 0.3 to 0.6 cm (1/8 to 1/4 inch) thick, against the grain.
Spread the Spicy Garlic Aioli on both top and bottom sides of the baguette portions. Layer the sliced steak on and then top with the Asian Coleslaw.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 30, 2012