Roy Choi’s “L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food” is a heartfelt immigrant story AND it includes a fantastic recipe for SPAM Bánh Mì (step-by-step photos below).
About the book (via Amazon):
Abounding with both the food and the stories that gave rise to Choi’s inspired cooking, L.A. Son takes us through the neighborhoods and streets most tourists never see, from the hidden casinos where gamblers slurp fragrant bowls of pho to Downtown’s Jewelry District, where a ten-year-old Choi wolfed down Jewish deli classics between diamond deliveries; from the kitchen of his parents’ Korean restaurant and his mother’s pungent kimchi to the boulevards of East L.A. and the best taquerias in the country, to, at last, the curbside view from one of his emblematic Kogi taco trucks, where people from all walks of life line up for a revolutionary meal.
Filled with over 85 inspired recipes that meld the overlapping traditions and flavors of L.A.—including Korean fried chicken, tempura potato pancakes, homemade chorizo, and Kimchi and Pork Belly Stuffed Pupusas—L.A. Son embodies the sense of invention, resourcefulness, and hybrid attitude of the city from which it takes its name, as it tells the transporting, unlikely story of how a Korean American kid went from lowriding in the streets of L.A. to becoming an acclaimed chef.
The book is co-written with Tien Nguyen and Natasha Phan. Available at bookstores and Amazon.com
Roy Choi’s SPAM Bánh Mì Recipe (posted with permission). Enjoy!
For the pickles:
1 cup julienned daikon
1 cup julienned carrots
1/2 cup natural rice wine vinegar (not seasoned)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup of water
For the sandwiches:
4 demi baguettes
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Maggi seasoning
1 tablesppon Sriracha
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 can of SPAM, cut into 8 thin steaks
Fresh cilantro sprigs
Fresh Thai basil or opal basil leaves
Fried Shallots (store-bought)
Place the daikon and carrots in a small bowl. Combine the vinegar, salt, sugar, and water in a small pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn off the heat and let it cool until it’s warm. Pour over the daikon and carrots and let it sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Note: The second time I made this, I added fresh chiles from my garden.
Cut the baguettes in half but keep them intact. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the Maggi seasoning and the Sriracha. I’m calling this Roy’s MaggiMayCha and I’ve been slathering it on EVERYTHING!
Slather the cut sides of the baguettes with softened butter and toast them in your toaster oven or in a pan over low heat until they’re nice and crispy. Set aside.
Heat the oil (I used brown butter) in a skillet, add the SPAM, and cook over medium heat until it’s golden brown in color. Transfer to a paper towels and reserve.
Slather the buttered sides of the baguettes with the spicy mayonnaise. To build the sandwiches, place the SPAM on the bottom half of each baguette, then top with the pickled daikon and carrots and add a layer of cilantro and basil (I used regular basil).