If you've never had the pleasure of eating a Banh Mi sandwich, you're doing everything wrong. The Vietnamese sandwich is like a personalized sub you can eat for any meal of the day. It's pretty easy to make and packs well, meaning once you get the hang of it, the Banh Mi might just be your next meal addiction.
The Banh Mi is a hybrid of French and Vietnamese cuisines, the product of a rather unpleasant colonial era long ago. The sandwich style has stuck around, built around treating the European baguette to a host of Vietnamese staples. It's become quite legendary in Vietnam, playing a leading role in the street food realm. In the end, you're set up with a fairly healthy sandwich that's a joy to create, personalize, and of course, eat.
This style is also an excellent way to clean out your fridge and put some leftovers to use. Things like turkey, extra salad, meatballs, and pâtés make for delicious additions. It's also a great sandwich to add some heat to, so don't be bashful if there's a hot sauce you adore. You can always take the sting out a bit with something sweet, like a drizzle of honey.
Most people who know their Banh Mi will tout the importance of the bread. You can toast your own at home, but you're better off seeking out a great bakery that specializes in small baguettes. Freshness and crustiness are key here, adding flavor and standing up to any juice from the meat, along with any sauces you elect to use.
Here are a few simple steps to take when making your own Banh Mi.
Step 1: Cut your pickled vegetables in long strings and drizzle some olive oil on top, if you wish. You can also make your own pickled vegetables; just be sure to include carrot, radish, and some jalapeno pepper.
Step 2: Mix equal parts Sriracha and mayo in a bowl and mix (about a spoonful of each). Slather the result on a slide of the baguette, cut lengthwise. If the Sriracha shortage has got you down, make your own.
Step 3: Cut up fresh herbs and cucumber.
Step 4: Cook your protein, if need be, and season with salt and whatever spice you wish. We suggest baharat or Chinese five-spice.
Step 5: Place the protein in the baguette and top with cucumber, herbs, and pickled vegetables.
Consider the Banh Mi as a template. Feel free to throw in any of your favorite things, from different proteins (beef, pork, plant-based options) to various sauces and other herbs like mint and Thai basil. Also, if you like fish sauce, this is a great place to experiment with the stuff. The many tweaks will lead to countless meal permutations, meaning you won't soon tire of this tasty sandwich.
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