Sloppy Bao
Adapted from Michael Bao Huynh, via Martha Stewart

I played around with this recipe a bit before finding my perfect combination. My first version didn’t have as much of a kick as I like (or remember having at Baoguette), so I added a couple of bird’s eye chilis to the mix and that did the trick. If you prefer your food to be on the milder side, skip the chilis and just follow the recipe accordingly. I don’t recommend slicing the baguette all the way across, because your filling will ooze out on all sides. If you can’t find Thai basil, just go for plain regular basil – it’s not a perfect match, but it’ll be pretty close. And while this isn’t exactly traditional Super Bowl grub, and doesn’t scream America, I think a twist on the traditional, American Sloppy Joes, with all its myriad immigrant influences, ias American as it gets. You can serve these with a beer or a Dark and Stormy – either way they’re a winner.

1/4 cup safflower oil
2 pounds lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped shallot
2 tablespoons chopped lemongrass
1/4 cup Thai red-curry paste
1-2 Thai chilis (optional)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups ketchup
2 tablespoons fish sauce
20 Thai basil leaves (or regular basil leaves, if Thai ones aren’t readily available)
2 teaspoons light-brown sugar
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
Coarse salt
8 (8-inch) lengths of baguette, halved horizontally, but don’t cut all the way through (make sure the halves are still attached so that your drippy filling doesn’t fall out altogether)
2 cups julienned green mango (I used a regular mango because there are no green mangos in my area)
Additional thinly sliced jalapenos, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add beef, shallot, lemongrass, red-curry paste, chilis, if using, and garlic. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes.

Stir in ketchup, fish sauce, 10 basil leaves, brown sugar, and mustard. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Place baguettes in oven and cook until toasted, about 2 minutes. Fill each baguette with about 1 cup beef mixture, and top with remaining 10 basil leaves, mango, and jalapenos. Serve immediately.

Serves 8

© 2022 Olga Massov