After dropping off some photos to Michaels Camera it was time for lunch. We needed something quick and tasty as we had a BBQ to get to that afternoon and Charlie needed a sleep before we left so it was an easy decision. Nhu Lan in Footscray for Banh Mi (Vietnamese pork and salad roll) . In my opinion Nhu Lan do the best Banh Mi in Melbourne and most of the Vietnamese community agree so it is always madness in there at lunchtimes, especially on the weekends.
So while Tina battled the mayhem that masquerades as the Nhu Lan queueing system I played outside with Charlie. We were both pretty hungry and I knew Tina would be ages in Nhu Lan, she just doesn't have the fight that it takes to get served quickly in there! I decided to duck into the To's Cafe & Hot Bread two doors down as they have a heated display case of delicious goodies that have ofter taken my eye.
I grabbed a Nem Nuong ($3.5) which is sweet pork sausage on a stick and a Banh Cong which is a savoury mung bean fried bun ($1.50) and Charlie and I snuck in a quick snack before Tina returned. Charlie preferred the Nem Nuong but was kind enough to share some with me. I cook this at home sometimes, usually for using in a bun (rice vermicelli) Nem Nuong salad but these were much stickier and sweeter than my version which comes from the Meera Freedman cookbook 'The Flavours of Vietnam'. I bought this at book depository for $12, another bargain! It doesn't have many pictures but the recipe list reads like a Melbourne Vietnamese restaurant menu. If you see it, buy it. I cheat a bit with my version and add some red pork spice mix to try and get a more authentic (artificial) colour.
My adapted recipe is as follows:
500 g coarse pork mince (nice and fatty is you can get it)
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp ground black pepper
4 tbs fish sauce
3 cloves crushed garlic
2tbs red spice pork mix
Throw it all into the food processors and blend until it forms a smooth paste.
Then roll it into balls (moisten your hands with oil or water) to stop it sticking and grill on a griddle plate or charcoal BBQ.
The Banh Cong is usually served with Banh Cuon and Dinh Son Quan in Little Saigon Footscray do my favourite version but this one was just as delicious. I would have liked some Nuoc Mam to dip it in but it was only a sneaky snack so I made do. The outside is wonderful crispy and crunchy with an earthy moist filling of mung bean 'dough like' mix. These ones also had a yummy crispy fried prawn on top, you just can't go wrong with crispy fried prawn!
Oh yeah, Tina finally returned with the Banh Mi and they were awesome! I had Banh Mi Thit (roast pork) but usually also go for Banh Mi Bi (shredded pork skin with spring onion oil) which is another must try. Just be prepared to fight pretty hard or you'll be waiting in line for a long time!