Banh Mi (or bánh mì) are popping up everywhere these days, it seems, and no wonder: cheap, fast and filling has always been a winning combination. "Exotic" is also rarely a terrible thing.
A Vietnamese baguette, when done correctly, is ethereal and light with a delicate crust. It is the perfect vessel for a sandwich, and the banh mi — a type of sandwich usually made with grilled meat (pork or chicken are most common), cilantro and pickled carrots and daikon (called do chua
) — is a perfect marriage of Vietnamese and French culinary traditions.
Want to use your own pickled ingredients? Check out my Party in a Can article
on Rock UR Party.
I’ve had banh mi many ways: BBQ chicken; “the works” with thinly sliced ham roll, grilled pork and pâté; and shredded pork skin with tripe. I've made them a few times myself, too, because A) they're really easy and B) I really couldn't stand the shredded pork skin and tripe version (which I received by mistake). I'm still a little terrified that the person taking my order will misunderstand me and that I'll end up getting it by accident again.
Oh, most important, C) I'm a bit of a control freak, so making my own lets me know exactly which meat I'm using. It's hard to find free-range, local, organic meat in a $4 sandwich.
If you don't want to fuss with meatballs, you can use store-bought rotisserie chicken dressed up with 1/4 cup of hoisin sauce mixed with a teaspoon of fish sauce, a teaspoon of sugar, one minced garlic clove, a tablespoon of finely chopped lemongrass and some black pepper.
Here's the recipe, check out more tips below!
You can also grill thinly sliced pork with this sauce. If you're a vegetarian, you can make a version with an omelet, seitan (mock duck), tempeh or tofu; use the same sauce, but with soy sauce instead of fish sauce.
If you like weird stuff like head cheese (like I do, the good German girl that I am), this is a great place to use it. Layer on your do chua
and a handful of cilantro. Add some thinly sliced jalapeño if you like your food to hurt a little.
Enjoy with a beer and chips. Make a picnic of these, and you will rule!