A goy can dream

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Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

Whitefish salad, the Jewish deli staple that fuses smoked, tender whitefish and mayonnaise, is usually relegated to appetizing shops and well-furnished shivahs. Imagine our surprise to see our favorite Ashkenazic delicacy step out of its comfort zone and get the Asian treatment at Mooncake Foods (28 Watts St between Broome and Spring Sts, 212-219-8888; 263 W 30th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves, 212-268-2888), where it’s stuffed inside the classic Vietnamese hero, the banh mi. The team at Mooncake came up with this whimsical yet happy marriage a few years ago, when co-owner Kenny Luong tasted a whitefish salad that reminded him of the tuna sandwiches from his childhood. And the whitefish salad banh mi was born. In Luong’s interpretation, a six-inch loaf is slathered with a whitefish mixture that’s tangier than most—some of the mayo has been swapped for a binder of egg yolk and vinegar. The added tartness is a fitting complement to the crunchy mix of pickled carrots, daikon and ginger, green-leaf lettuce, chopped cilantro and thin rounds of fiery jalapeños. Bubbe might not approve, but we do.

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