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Bánh mì: colorful Saigon sandwich
Bánh mì means 'wheat cake/pastry' in Vietnamese. It may have started as a 'kitchen sink' recipe in Vietnam, where various leftovers would be tossed into a sandwich to finish them up (like a po' boy). Bánh mì is now sought after by many for its unique and delicious flavors. There are many different types of bánh mì sandwiches, ranging from chunked BBQ grilled pork, sliced pork pate, and shredded grilled chicken, to grilled and smoked fish, sardine, meatball, Chinese-style sausage, and tripe.
Choices of bread are also quite varied. It is customary to use a toasted French baguette or French bread, because of the textures these breads provide: bánh mì tastes best when the outer crust of the bread is firm but not overly hard, and the inner part of the bread is fluffy and light like a yeast roll, that is, one which is not overly dense or spongy. The reason for this is that the crust's firmness provides a barrier for the moisture of the sandwich, and the lightness of the inner bread does not overwhelm the flavors of the sandwich, which would otherwise make the sandwich taste overly 'bready'. Still, no sandwich tastes better than the flavor of the bread, so make sure the bread is fresh and flavorful (preferably one from a bakery). Using a store-bought bread yields unpredictable results as they tend to taste overly processed or they taste like the plastic or paper bag in which they are kept.
To make a bánh mì sandwich, begin with a toasted French baguette. Cut a length of baguette in half lengthwise and either remove excess bread from the inner portion of the sandwich by digging out a cavity in the two halves or press into the bread to form trenches. These depressions are where we will put the mayonnaise and ingredients.
The following are different ingredients used to make bánh mì. Put in as many as you wish in your sandwich - each is different. The first list of ingredients are typical bánh mì ingredients, the second list are meat ingredients, and the third list are optional other ingredients. Have fun!
Standard bánh mì ingredients:
- pickled julienned carrot
- pickled julienned daikon radish
- cilantro leaves and stalks
- super-thin jalapeño slices
- fresh sliced cucumber
- BBQ pork
- BBQ chicken
- sliced pork pate
- sliced pork meatloaf
- sliced ham
- BBQ beef
- textured vegetable protein (wheat gluten, seitan, sueyu, suegai - vegetarian fish fillets)
- seasoned tofu
- sliced Chinese/Thai/Vietnamese style sausage (waxy kind)
- Smoked salmon
- grilled or fried whitefish
- sliced turnip
- sliced green onions
- sliced, patted dry tomatoes
- sprigs of mint
- sprigs of basil
- shredded cabbage
- sprout mix
Sauces for sandwich:
- Japanese mayonnaise (Cupie Mayo - squeeze bottle with a baby on front)
- (Mayso) mayo and soy
- (Maysocha) mayo, soy, sriracha chili sauce
- (Maycha) mayo, sriracha
- (Hot Mom) mayo, Lao Gan Ma – Sad, Old grandmother Chinese hot sauce (also great with French fries)
- any of the above with lime (or lemon) juice and sugar
- BBQ sauce and mayo
Pickling the vegetables:
Sprinkle light salt over julienned vegetables, wait 5 min, rinse with cold water. Mix equal parts of water, coconut vinegar (or white) with natural sugar (or white). Bring to a boil, cool and pour over vegetables. Store mixture using an appropriate container (glass, polycarbonate, hdpe 5+) in the refrigerator.
Original author: Mchrisneglia <mchrisneglia AT yahoo DOT com>, March 24, 2004
Author's Notes: please contribute!