100 Cambodian- and Southeast Asian-inspired recipes from New York's favorite sandwich shop
In a city with so many great sandwich joints, Num Pang Sandwich Shop is a standout, receiving high praise from numerous sources including Bon Appétit and Zagat. First opened in 2009 by Ratha Chaupoly and Ben Daitz, the restaurant introduced New York City to Cambodian-inspired sandwiches and sides. Today, there are six locations in the city with more in the works. Num Pang sandwiches are similar to Vietnamese banh mi, but what makes them so special is the inventive fillings, ranging from Glazed Five-Spice Pork Belly to Seared Coconut Tiger Shrimp to Hoisin Meatballs. The book provides recipes for all the fan favorites as well as ones for condiments like Pickled Five-Spice Asian Pears, sides like the Sambal Chili–Glazed Chicken Wings, soups and stews like Curried Red Lentil Soup, salads like Green Papaya Salad, and drinks like Cambodian Iced Coffee. With touches of graffiti art inspired by the chain’s signature urban, hip-hop style, Num Pang looks just as bold as the mouthwatering recipes taste.
Cambodia-born Chaupoly and native New Yorker Daitz were both building impressive restaurant industry resumes when they met, one day, at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. They quickly became friends and business partners, opening the Num Pang sandwich shop in Greenwich Village in 2009. Seven years and five additional locations later, the two are spilling their secrets of success in this collection of tangy recipes. They begin by revealing the "holy trinity (of four)," the ingredients that go into every sort of num pang (spoiler alert: cucumber, cilantro, chili mayo, and pickled carrots). Then, rather than focusing on sandwich building, they deconstruct, exploring the many ways of turning fowl, meat, fish, and vegetables into succulent centerpieces that can either be stuffed into a baguette, or served as a main or side dish. Highlights include a chile-basil fried chicken made with buttermilk; glazed five-spice pork belly with a hint of maple syrup; hoisin meatballs; and peppercorn catfish. Dotted throughout are helpful "know this" tip boxes, offering sage advice on skills such as flame-roasting ginger and judging the thickness of coconut milk. There is also a chapter of meals in a bowl with predictable entries such as oxtail stew, surprising options such as oatmeal flavored with tamarind, mango, and papaya, and, just for the heck of it, a traditional matzo ball soup.