The ‘Banh mi’

banh mi PM

A French baguette with Vietnamese spicy fillings and chilli mayonnaise – what’s there not to like?! Well the Bánh mì (pronounced as ‘ban mee’) is apparently what the Vietnamese name all kinds of bread. It is similar to the ‘baguette’ and was introduced by the French during its colonial period. The Banh mi is usually lighter in texture than the baguettes we are familiar with in the West, but it is made with a thinner crust. Typical fillings for a Banh mi sandwich include pork or chicken meat prepared in different ways, meat jelly, fried eggs, and tofu. Accompanying vegetables typically include fresh cucumber slices, cilantro (leaves of the coriander plant) and pickled carrots and grated daikon (a type of radish). Common condiments include chilli sauce, sliced chilis, mayonnaise, and cheese.

For me, a sandwich should not be a tedious affair and should be quick to assemble and easy to gobble up. However! The Banh mi is an exception as the different ingredients give different accents to the sandwich which makes this unique and extremely delicious! So it’s definitely worth the extra effort, but perhaps it’s best made on a relaxed day rather than during the morning rush before work. Although there are a few variations of the traditional fillings, the pickles are obligatory and are key feature in this sandwich. I do suggest you take time to prepare the pickle and you could even do this part the day before so the assembling is quicker the next day. I have also used mixed my chilli sauce (Sriracha) with my egg-free mayonnaise, but you can spread these on separately if you prefer. But I do stress that the combination of Sriracha and mayonnaise is SOOOO delicious! Instead of tofu I have used homemade Seitan in my recipe, but well-seasoned tofu strips work just as well. My homemade baguettes don’t seem to be as light as they should be sometimes, so you may prefer to buy yours from your local bakery to ensure you get really light and airy dough for your baguette.

I can’t wait to try out the ice cream sandwich called bánh mì kẹp kem which consists of scoops of ice cream stuffed inside a Banh mi, topped with crushed peanuts. A dessert sandwich! YUM!

In Vietnam, vegetarian sandwiches (bánh mì chay) are rarely found on the street stalls but can be seen made at Buddhist temples. The fact that this veggie combo is a rare sight made me want to try this even more! You can click here for my take on a veggie Banh mi and I hope you try out your own preferred combo of fillings.

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