Bahn Mi – Vietnamese Sandwich recipe
I have been waiting for warmer weather to finally share one of my favourite sandwich recipe– the one and only Bahn Mi!!!
I love sandwiches. The combinations are endless…You can experiment with spices, sauces and filling – and of course you can choose some great breads to hold it all together. One of my earliest sandwich food memory must be a slice of wholemeal bread, butter and fresh, thinly sliced Salami Milanese. (I grew up in a household where Northern Italian food dominated the scene) Only three ingredients, no fancy condiments nor pickles nor vegetables, but each ingredient was simple and full of flavour. Since then my taste in sandwiches has evolved (but has not travelled very far from my roots) and I have become a fan of the many great Italian panini and Tramezzini. The Italians have truly mastered the art of the sandwich in my opinion.
With my sandwich heaven so far firmly established in Italy, I did not expect to encounter a new favourite sandwich when I went on holiday to Vietnam. But travelling by bus from Nha Trang to Mui Ne, we stopped at the bus stop to stock up on food and beverages. There was a woman with a trolley full of french sticks, herbs and other foods. As we were intrigued and hungry we ordered some sandwiches. She rapidly assembled some gorgeous looking sandwiches. One with Tofu for my vegetarian friend, and two classic ones with the special vietnamese pate. It was a truly uplifting moment in the otherwise crowded, uncomfortable bus (which later broke down).
What makes it such a special sandwich, is first of all the bread. It is a kind of french stick, but much lighter (as they use rice flour in the dough) Then follow the condiments like mayo, an abundance of fresh herbs (mostly cilantro), and and a great pickle made of daikon and carrots. All off this makes a sandwich which burst with salty, sugary, sour and spicy flavour. What kind of protein you put in between the bread and the condiments is really up to you. The vietnamese have a filling which is a kind of meatloaf spiced with 5-spice which is then sliced when cold. You can buy this “pate” everywhere wrapped in pretty banana leaf parcels. Sometime they also put some soft pate as we know it in the West. Other options can be grilled chicken breast, spicy meatballs, pork, prawns or marinated tofu. It is up to you, as long as you mix it with the cilantro, mayo, and the pickle!!!
For the pickle you can either use Daikon and Carrots or if you cannot find Daikon you can use Cucumber and Carrots. If you choose to do it with Daikon, make sure you chose a young, firm and unblemished Daikon, as they can turn bitter with old age!! (I wonder whether there are any similarities to real life…) The pickle can keep in the fridge covered with brine at least for a week. Make sure the jar is closed, as the smell becomes a bit pungent after a while!!
I have not added here a recipe for the bread, as I wanted this to be a simple recipe anyone can easily make at home. So try to find a kind of french baguette/stick at the shops. Better to stick with the white flour variety, as that is closer to the original.
preparation time: 20 min marination time: 1 hour makes medium size jar
50 g white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons hot water
100 ml rice vinegar
250 g daikon, young and firm, peeled
180 g carrots, peeled
mix the sugar and salt with the 3 tablespoons of hot water and stir.
Add the rice vinegar and stir untill the sugar and salt is dissolved
Peel the carrots, cut off the tops and cut into very fine matchstick strips of about 3cm length.
Do the same with the Daikon. Put the vegetables into a big enough glass jar.
Pour the sugar/vinegar mixture over the vegetables until they are completely covered.
Close the jar. Marinate the vegetables in the jar for at least 1 hour before eating.
The vegetables should keep refrigerated in the jar for at least 1week.
Lemongrass and Turmeric spicepaste for Chickenbreast
For one chickenbreast
½ teaspoon turmeric, freshly grated or dried
1 stalk lemongrass, using only tender inner core
1 tablespoon fishsauce
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
Mix all the ingredients in a blender until you have a rough paste.
Completely cover the chicken with this paste.
Barbecue on griddle or pan until done.
preparation time: 10 minutes serves 1 person
1 white light french stick, excessive crums removed
1-3 tablespoons Mayo
1 teaspoon Japaleno peppers, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon Fishsauce
1 Chicken breast, barbecued or grilled and sliced
4 slices of cucumbers
fresh chopped coriander, and fresh lettuce leaves
2 tablespoons Daikon and Carrot pickle
½ chilli de-seeded and chopped (optional)
Cut a french stick in half and remove the white soft crumbs if there is too much
chop the pickled Japaleno pepers and add to the mayo together with lime juice and fishsauce.
Spread the baguette generously on both sides with this mayo.
Add the lettuce leaves, cucumber slices, cooked chicken breast, Daikon and Carrot pickle and the fresh chopped coriander leaves. If you want more heat, add some chopped chilli.
Close the bread and get ready for an explosion of flavours!!