Vietnamese baguette sandwiches, called Banh Mi, have attracted a loyal fan base like never before. Like a musical band with rock star status, these sandwiches have an almost cult-like following of epicurean devotees. The uniqueness of these sandwiches not only lies within the french influenced baguette, but it’s also the flavor packed, savory Viet fillings that what makes the marriage of the two main ingredients a true love affair.
It starts with a Viet style french baguette; usually made with a combination of rice and/or wheat flour, resulting in a very light, crackly crust and not overly dense bread. The majority of Viet bakeries strive & compete to achieve a golden, crackly crust with just a touch of center, where most of the baguette is more crust than center. A few other may be content on creating a Viet baguette that is a little more soft and chewy on the outside, and a little more “hoagie” like. So there is a bread for almost everyone.
Inside the length of the cut baguette or (occasionally a full demi-baguette), a great banh mi should have luscious, Viet flavored fillings such as pork prepared in numerous ways; juicy pork meat ball (xiu mai), bar-b-que (thit nuong), shredded (bi) and pork roll (cha lua).
Cold cut combinations (pork roll, ham, and/or head cheese), grilled chicken (ga nuong), sardine (ca moi), scrambled egg (trung chien) and vegetarian (chay) are just a sampling of the plethora of possibilities one may be offered on the menu.
Other common ingredients used to finish the sandwich often are: liver pate, homemade mayo, touch of soy sauce, shredded pickled carrots & daikon, fresh cilantro, jalapeño heat and crispy cucumber slices. Most any of these condiments may be omitted since, banh mi are nearly always made to order.
To top off that banh mi high”, they are still “light” on the pocketbook. Rock on!