As consumers seek gluten-free options, this flatbread concept takes a popular Southeast Asian turn and makes it approachable for those with certain dietary restrictions.
Southeast Asian cuisine and its flavors are still in the height of refinement, and we now see definitive concepts aligned to specific regions. For example, it’s becoming more common to hear cuisine referred to as Northern Thai or Southern Thai, rather than simply Thai.
This bánh mì flatbread is intended as a special treat to the general diner, versus just the gluten-intolerant diner. Compared to traditional variations of pizza, there are slim pickings in the prepared foods area in terms of gluten-free offerings.
The ingredients for this concept are relatively easy to acquire. The primary areas of focus—when considering scaling this concept up for production—would need to be the dough ingredients, with special care taken to not overcook the dough. Many gluten-free dough end up overcooked because they lack Maillard browning. Some natural solutions to this issue exist with the use of fruit powders, such as raisin or fig powder, perhaps combined with toasted almond meal.
A production-ready formula would omit fresh herbs because of discoloration, with the possibility of using a pesto-like dressing instead. This would help maintain the product’s fresh, authentic flavors.
We developed this flatbread with a singular focus on delivering delicious flavor. The blend of almond meal and other flours create a crackly texture in the flatbread crust, balanced with high moisture for a simultaneously robust and delicate bite. In my experience, when a flour crust develops a nutty, roasted flavor due to a properly heated oven, it makes for optimal flavor in a flatbread. This almond flatbread has the nuttiness built right in. Pairing the flatbread with the tart, savory flavors of Southeast Asian ingredients makes this a memorable flavor for any flatbread fan.
Almond aioli: Add the first six ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Purée until smooth. While puréeing, slowly add almond oil, alternating with water to achieve the desired consistency. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Topping: Preheat a skillet over a medium high heat and add canola oil. Sauté pork tenderloin in the pan until browned and cooked through. Meanwhile, in a large stainless steel bowl, combine the rice wine vinegar, lime juice, salt, coriander seed, carrots, onion, almonds and jalapeño; toss to coat. Remove the pork from the heat and let cool at room temperature. Once cool, julienne the meat into thin strips. Add to the marinating vegetables and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Gluten-free flatbread: Preheat a baking stone in a 450°F oven. In a food processor, blend the almond meal, white rice flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum and salt until very fine. Remove from the food processor and place in a medium stainless steel bowl. Add water and mix with hands until there are no dry ingredients left. Let rest for 15 minutes. Note: The dough will be sticky. Scoop approximately 1.5 ounces of the dough onto a work surface dusted with white rice flour. Roll to a diameter of 6 inches with a rolling pin and no thicker than 1/8 inch. Place round directly on the preheated baking stone and bake until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. The brown areas will be spotted across the flatbread and will not be uniform.
Final assembly: Spread 2 tablespoons of almond aioli on each flatbread. Top evenly with a heaping 1/4 cup of the marinated mixture. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro.