When I was growing up in Saigon, banh pa-te-so (or Pate Chaud) made a frequent appearance in my breakfasts. Near my house, there was a chain bakery named Banh Duc Phat. Every morning on my way to school, I would stop and and smell that buttery scent of fresh pastry. Naturally, I tried every thing. But my favorite would always be "Banh Pa-Te-So."
A fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisine, Banh Pa-Te-So is a meat-filled puff pastry. To make puff pastry, one would repeatedly fold and roll the dough, with layers of butter in between. I used to make my own puff pastry, but it is quite frankly not worth the trouble . At the super market, you can buy frozen puff pastry sheets that are ready to use.
Here's what you will need:
As pictured: Frozen Puff Pastry sheets, Shiitake Mushrooms, Onion, Garlic, Ground Pork, Ground Beef.
And because I am a forgetful person, I didn't take picture of : 1 Egg, Fish Sauce, Salt, and Pepper
Disclaimer: I am a Pa-te-so purist. I had a particular type of banh pa-te-so growing up and that is the taste I am trying to recreate. I know people add noodles, celery, carrot, and many other things in their pa-te-so as well, but I don't. I guess it's up to you to create your own pa-te-so :-).
With the Shiitake mushroom, remove stems, then again chop it finely. I only ended up using one container, about this much. Don't judge me - It's not a precise science, OK? :-)
Now put everything together: 1/2 lb Ground Pork, 1/2 lb Ground Beef, 1/2 Onion, and 1 cup Shiitake Mushroom. Oh, while you are at it, throw in 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic too, like this:
Now comes the most important ingredient of the Pa-Te-So: Cognac. This is what gives Pa-Te-So its distinct flavor. I didn't have proper cognac on hand, so I used another kind of VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) brandy that I know to have a similar taste. But believe me when I tell you that it makes a difference. I used to have an incredible bottle of Cognac - I still mourn its absence. Add about 1.5 Table spoon or so.
Now get your hands in there and just mix it all together. Let all the flavors introduce themselves to each other... Let the mixture sit for a while as you open your frozen puff pastry, and cut them into squares. Then put some fillings in the puff pastry sheets, and shield the edges. If you need help shielding the edges, you can use a little bit of water. I am lazy, and I just press the heck out of them. Of course, you are free to make Pa-Te-So in other shapes if you would like.
Now, remember the egg I forgot to take a picture off? Just beat it lightly, and brush it on top of the pastry to achieve that golden color. Cut a few nicks for venting.
Bake these babies at around 375-400 degree F (190-204 degree C) for 25-30 minutes. You will see them puff up and turn golden.... like this:
Oh... they are delicious. My husband can eat dozens of these. My friend Thomas came over yesterday and he agreed that they were delicious - I told him I would quote him :-).
If you ever wake up on a Sunday morning and want a taste of French-Vietnamese cuisine, you must give these a try. For me, there is nothing quite as magical as a childhood memory.
For similar Vietnamese recipes, check out these great blogs I follow: