Tucked into a tiny space on Orchard Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan is An Choi. Vibrant and inspired by Saigon back-alley hole in the wall eateries they serve up hot bowls of pho and fresh banh mi sandwiches. Orchard Street is like a mini foodie heaven. With one foot in Chinatown and the other stepping ever so slightly into SoHo, it’s eight blocks of inspired cafes and food concepts enough to make me want to set up camp and eat my way down the street.
Whenever I am visiting the city, it’s off the Amtrak and onto my first meal, typically with an overwhelming list of 200 places that I want to somehow try in three days. The last time I was in the city it was one of those chilly Spring days where you can feel winter lingering in the biting wind and all I could think of was a hot bowl of pho to warm me up. I headed straight to An Choi.
Image Credit: An Choi
One seat at the counter please.
One crispy chicken confit banh mi and the pho bo please.
I loved An Choi not only for the wonderful food, but because it’s cozy with that dim lighting you only seem to find in magical little places in New York. You can curl up into your own anonymous space and enjoy your meal, no one is looking. That is exactly what I love about New York City, there is so much to see, do and eat, you don’t even need anyone. Just you and the city is more than enough.
Let’s fast forward…back in Dubai and I am trying to recreate this experience in my own kitchen. I thought of doing a different twist on the traditional banh mi that would be perfect for stylish entertaining. Call me the crostini queen but I can’t get enough of them when throwing a party. I decided to do a open face banh mi crostini with chicken liver pâté. I love the idea of having appetizer sized banh mi’s that are elegant enough for a formal cocktail party. I made the pâté the day before and let it set in the fridge over night, I spared you the ugly process of making the pâté, there was no way I could beautify that process! The combination of the creamy pâté alongside the tangy radish pickles and fresh garnishes is really a wonderful blend of flavors, and a refreshing change from the usual crostini I tend to make.Recipe
Chicken Liver Pâté
300 grams cleaned chicken livers
1 cup milk
8 tbs butter
4 shallots chopped
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tbs fresh oregano coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tbs black peppercorns
dash of red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
2-3 sprigs of fresh sage
Soak the chicken livers in milk and after two hours drain thoroughly. Heat a saute pan over medium low heat with 2 tbs of butter, add the shallots & garlic and cook for about 5-7 minutes until translucent and soft. Remove from the pan and set aside. Heat the same saute pan over medium high heat and add in the chicken livers, oregano, bay leaf and peppercorns. Cook for about 5 minutes (the livers will remain soft with a bit of sear on the exterior). After 5 minutes add the red wine vinegar and cook for one minute longer. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf. Place the livers into a food processor along with the shallots & garlic, pulse to combine. Add two tbs of butter into the mixture and pulse till fully combined and a pâté consistency is reached, taste for seasoning. Transfer the pâté into a terrine or jar. Melt the remaining two tbs of butter in a pan and pour over the top of the pâté, drop the sage sprigs into the melted butter. Let set in the fridge for at least two hours.
Quick Pickled Radish
1/2 cup red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
1/4 cup water
Thinly slice the radishes using a mandolin or knife. Add to a jar along with the vinegar, salt, sugar and water. Let sit in the fridge for at least one hour.
To Assemble the Crostini
1 french baguette
Garnishes: julienned carrots & cucumber, sprigs of fresh cilantro, alfalfa sprouts, sliced thin red chili pepper, sriracha sauce
Slice the baguette into crostinis and brush with olive oil, Toast in the oven at 375F/190C for 5-7 minutes until golden and crisp.
Spread pâté onto each crostini and garnish with radish pickle, julienned carrots & cucumber, sprouts, red chili and a dash of Sriracha