On our recent trip to Melbourne, Australia, we came across many bakeries and stores selling traditional Vietnamese sandwiches – Bánh Mì. These are the result of French and Vietnamese cuisines coming together, and boy, what a glorious effort.
Bánh mì sandwiches are different to the normal western sandwiches. The bread is crunchy on the outside and pillowy inside, serving as a light encasement for the delicious fillings inside. More on that later.
While watching our sandwiches being made, I duly noted what was included – the ingredients all play a part in achieving the balance of sweet, sour, savoury, spicy, umami, warm, cold, softness and crunch. That’s a lot achieved in one sandwich.
Here are the list of ingredients for you to create your very own bánh mì!
- Bread – choose a light bread with pillowy centre and light crusty crumb. (J’s wanted to make sure I mention not to get bread that is so crunchy that it scrapes the roof of your mouth. Coz that will hurt. Noted, darling 😊) Baguettes or Ficelle from Paneton French Bakery would be my choice (in New Zealand).
- Mayo – adds a creamy flavour to the sandwich.
- Pate – this is essential to any good Bánh Mì, giving it the umami flavour.
- Cucumber – Cucumber adds freshness and crunch, juxtaposing the other soft elements of the sandwich. Slice them lengthwise for even layering.
- Herbs – for freshness and an earthiness, coriander leaves and sliced spring onions are added. I would also suggest Thai basil as well, if you wish.
- Pickles – this is a must! Easy to make: 1:1.5 ratio of white or apple cider vinegar to caster sugar to fill to just over half of a glass jar. Warm jar and sugar slightly in microwave to dissolve the sugar. While it is cooling, sprinkle a bit of salt over thin batons of carrots/daikon/rings of onions. Massage and squeeze the carrots the diakon (no need for the onions) to get rid of their juices. Pat dry and add to the cooled jar of pickling liquid. Ready to use in just an hour.
- Protein – you have lots of choices here: vietnamese ham, lemongrass pork or beef, grilled pork, chinese BBQ pork, chinese roast pork or even grilled tofu. Champagne ham works too if there is nothing else!
- Sauce – You can add squirts of hoisin sauce or Maggi Seasoning for extra flavour. For me, a good grind of black pepper was enough.
- Fresh Red Chillies – a spicy element is a must and thinly sliced red chillies are commonly added to taste.
- Fried shallots for extra crunch.
- Add more meat if you wish.
- Close the sandwich and enjoy!