Food52 challenged me to a BLT-off for their tomato week so of course I had to create a sandwich inspired by the two cuisines that had the most powerful influence on the way that I think about food. This BLT combines my Sichuan background and deep American Southern roots. The bacon is spiced with my version of the five spice powder and then cooked in the oven to crispy. Extra crunch is added with a play on the Southern favorite, fried green tomatoes. The tomatoes are coated with a broken rice powder used in traditional Sichuan recipes such as my Pork Ribs + Sweet Potato Steamed with Spiced Rice Meal. To further enhance the tartness of the green tomatoes, I lightly pickled some peashoots with rice vinegar and added those to the sandwich. I am all about the textures in this sandwich, no mushiness here. An epic sandwich obviously requires a magical sauce to bind all the flavors together. This sandwich is anchored with a homemade spicy Sichuan mayo that is laced with the soul of Sichuan cooking, fermented broadbean chili paste (buy here). It is truly addictive. TK requested that all mayos I make from now on be this way. If you are interested in reading more about the complex ways that spice and heat are expressed in Sichuan food, take a look at my recent article that I wrote for The Kitchn (link).
If you are a vegetarian, this sandwich is also delicious without the bacon or maybe with an addition of avocado and/or eggs would also be great. The beauty of the BLT is that it is literally a list of basic bare bones ingredients with infinite opportunities for customization.
Be sure to follow along on Facebook tomorrow for the BLT-off where the editors at Food52 will be recreating my BLT along with the creations of several other bloggers. This sandwich is ready to do battle.