Bánh Mì Recipe: How to make the classic Vietnamese Sandwich

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Let me tell you a story about one of my favorite sandwiches: the Vietnamese Bánh Mì Sandwich! The story about the Bánh Mì is the story about how a classic of the Vietnamese street kitchen – a crispy, meaty, vegetal and spicy punch of a sandwich – has become an international sensation against all odds.

banh mi sandwich with condiments

 

On the surface, the Bahn Mi sandwich seems as simple as it is delicious and fresh: Layers of seasoned meats (or meaty alternatives) wrapped in a crunchy baguette with plenty of vegetables and herbs then slathered in Southeaster Asian flavors like fish sauce, chilies and the likes. But there’s SO much more to the humble Bánh Mì Sandwich than meets the eye.

It’s origins, for example are not as decidedly Asian as one might have guessed. Drawing on an odd mix of European sandwich traditions and classic French fillings coupled with Asian flair and spice, the Bánh Mì sandwich is another fascinating child of European colonialism that, against all odds, has wound up one of the world’s most iconic sandwiches.

To fully understand why such a seemingly peculiar mix of Asian and European flavors has become such a global phenomenon, we must dive deep into the origins of the Bánh Mì Sandwich and ask ourselves a couple of questions including, but not limited to, just what on earth is a Bánh Mì sandwich? and where on earth did it come from? Even if, on the surface, the answers seems simple.

 

What is a Bánh Mì: The trouble with etymology

A Bánh Mì or Bánh Mì Sandwich is a sandwich (well, duh, Johan!) originating from the streets of Saigon and it is quite generally understood to consist of a fusion of classic proteins including but not limited to seafood, chicken, pork sausage or grilled pork and traditional French ingredients such as pâté and mayonnaise then dressed with vegetables, Vietnamese aromatics and herbs and served in a baguette bread. So far, so good, so delicious… But that’s not necessarily the full extent of the matter, as Bánh Mì has come to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people over the years…

How so? Well, not only can Bánh Mì be used as an umbrella term to refer to a slur of different sandwiches, all of which do not necessarily have more in common than the bread in which they’re served, but that’s actually only a minor part of the grand, confusing problem. Speaking of bread, you see, the word Bánh Mì in itself is a quite misleading term as it can be used to refer to both the sandwich or the bread from which it is made.

Banh in Vietnamese, actually means bread whereas Mi means wheat. Bread from wheat. Aha, the plot thickens! Bánh Mì is not a sandwich? It’s a loaf bread?. Ahem, well, sorta! See, if we were to stick completely to the rules, the proper term for the sandwich we’ve all come to enjoy and adore would be Bánh Mì Kep. However, even, the term Bánh Mì is most often (erroneously, one might add) used to refer to Bánh Mì Kep, the glorious sandwich derived from the bread from which the name came. Desiring a Bánh Mì for breakfast, for example, refers to a meat-filled baguette, not the bread itself. Are we confused yet? Why not get back to basics and unlearn everything we have just learned!

Thus, having already thoroughly complicated matters, let’s keep it simple for the remainder of this post: Bánh Mì, from here on, will refer to a Vietnamese fusion sandwich made from a mix of Southeast Asian and European culinary traditions in ways that we will soon come to understand… Our next point of focus, you see, is how such a beautiful culinary abomination came to be.

 

Bánh Mì basics: History and French influence

How, indeed, did such a seemingly random and slightly askew combination of traditionally Asian ingredients and prototypical French sandwich craft come to be? The relatively simple answer to that pressing question is that the Bánh Mì sandwich is yet another quirk of colonialism.

The culinary seeds of the Bánh Mì sandwich were planted way back in the 1860’s when French colonists first brought the baguette to Vietnam – or French Indochina as they called it at the time because colonialism yay! At that time, imported wheat was very much an expensive, luxury item, making baguettes, white bread and, consequently, sandwiches a treat reserved for the elite, i.e. the French. As a result, sandwiches in Vietnam up until the 1950’s were very much French-inspired, typically of the classic jambon-beurre variety, sometimes moistened with mayonnaise or liver pâté.

Things were to change, however, and ss was the case in our epic tale of Pho, a few very violent and tragic events in the early to mid 20th were to shake things up quite a bit and cause a major shift in Vietnamese sandwich tradition. The very same tragic events, however would also, as ironic as it may sound, eventually help make sandwiches a food of the people and assist in creating the Bánh Mì as we know it today.

Vietnam street kitchen

The Vietnamese street kitchen – the birthplace of the Banh Mi Sandwich

 

The first of said tragic events was the so-called War to end all Wars, World War I. The great war led to not only an influx of French soldiers arriving in Vietnam but also resulted in a disruption of exports of wheat to Southeast Asia and Vietnam. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention and a larger demand for wheat bread coupled with a smaller supply of wheat forced Vietnamese bakers to mix inexpensive, local rice flour with wheat to create what became, essentially, the Vietnamese baguette – or Bánh Mì – a thin-crusted, fluffier version of its French counterpart that was considerably cheaper to produce and sell – in turn finally making it possible for a wider section of the Vietnamese masses to enjoy that favorite French staple; bread!

Fast forwarding nearly half a decade, the second tragic event that led to the popularization of the Bánh Mì sandwich was, of course, the Vietnam War and the partition of Vietnam in 1954. These unfortunate events sent more than a million refugees from the North pouring into South Vietnam and with them came their culinary habits. In Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City as it is known today), legend has it, refugees like Lê Minh Ngọc and Nguyễn Thị Tịnh started fusing traditional Vietnamese ingredients with traditional French sandwich habits – and with that, the somewhat quaint yet completely adorable Bánh Mì sandwich as we know it today was born.

From here on, the humble Bánh Mì sandwich took much of the same amazing culinary journey to world domination as that of everybody’s favorite Vietnamese noodle soup which has already been detailed in our comprehensive guide to Pho: Refugees from the atrocities of war, poverty and civil unrest brought with them their sandwich tradition on their trips across land or water in search of better lives. Wherever they eventually wound up, so did their unique take on sandwich craft. And the rest, as they say, is culinary history. When, in the 1980’s the Bánh Mì sandwich eventually hit California on the US West Coast, a legend was born, and like so many other things either originating from or popularized on the California food scene, the quirky sandwich spread like wildfire throughout the Continental US and eventually the world.

Not bad for a culture clash of a sandwich born out of necessity, eh?

 

Bánh Mì basics: What are the types of Bánh Mì Sandwiches

Considering its humble beginnings, the Bánh Mì concept has expanded a fair bit over the years and the Bánh Mì sandwich is now available in a plethora of varieties ranging from the simple to the, well, slightly obscure. The Bánh Mì sandwich lineup now features a sandwich for every taste or occasion you could dream up (and then some) but to name a few extremely popular varieties, these would include:

  • Bánh mì bì– Bánh Mì sandwich stuffed with shredded pork or pork skin, doused with fish sauce.
  • Bánh mì xíu mại– Bánh Mì sandwich made from minced pork meatballs cooked in tomato sauce.
  • Bánh mì pa-tê– Bánh Mì sandwich smeared with (liver) pâté from either chicken or pork.
  • Bánh mì gà nướng– Grilled chicken Bánh Mì sandwich.
  • Bánh mì chả –Bánh Mì sandwich made from traditional Vietnamese fish patties known as chả cá.
  • Bánh mì chay– Vegetarian Bánh Mì sandwich made with either tofu or seitan. Strangely uncommon on the streets, and usually only prepared at Buddhist temples during special religious events.

On top of these, however, several obscure and sometimes downright bonkers varieties exist, including but certainly not limited to Bánh mì kẹp kem or Ice Cream Bánh Mì (I kid you not!) stuffed with, well, you get it, and Bánh Mì  consisting of a baguette filled with margarine and sugar… Because… Yum?!

For the purpose of this post, we’ll focus on a less outrageous and much more traditional take on the Bánh Mì Sandwich, my personal favorite and a favorite of millions around the world, the Grilled Pork Bánh Mì Sandwich or Bánh Mì Thịt Nướng … And no, please don’t ask me to pronounce that, people already make fun of me for my pronunciation of Pho.

 

What is a Grilled Pork Bánh Mì Sandwich

Soooo… What is a Grilled Pork Bánh Mì sandwich? Well, as we’ve already determined, Bánh Mì sandwiches come in a variety of different forms (including ice cream and margarine-based ones) and while it would appear that by choosing pork as our protein of choice, we would have limited our options, this is far from the case.

You see, even when it comes to pork-based varieties, and even if we ignore versions built on ground pork or pork sausage, the number of  Bánh Mì variations are staggering. The seemingly straight-forward Grilled Pork Bánh Mì Sandwich simply comes in a number of varieties that do, however, have one thing in common: they feature as their main ingredient slices of pork that has been grilled or barbecued. Great! So how do we make one? Well…

From looking at various so-called authentic recipes around the net, one gets the general impression that the pork cut in question can be anything from pork belly to tenderloin and that it can be seasoned, marinated, grilled or prepared in just about any way conceivable to man. The exact recipe and procedure seems to differ from chef to chef and, consequently, what we will explore in great detail below is but my take on what an authentic grilled pork Bánh Mì Sandwich, and, err, yeah…

It could be argued that authenticity is a lpretty ose term here as there are about as many approaches to Bánh Mì sandwich production as there are street vendors in Saigon, so consider this my take on authenticity, based on not a single trip to Vietnam but many a crawl through various sandwich shops around the world and quite a lot of picking, mixing, comparing and combining various online recipes and sources. Or better yet, consider this the gospel of authentic Bánh Mì sandwich composition according to a pasty white guy as my beautifully tanned favorite crush of Southeast Asian origin enjoys to call me. Ahem, I digress… Anyway, it goes a little something like this…

To make a traditional roast pork Bánh Mì, you will need at least the following 5 Bánh Mì essentials:

 

Bánh Mì essentials: Bread

“What is the traditional bread for a Bánh Mì sandwich?” It is when asking this exact question that the western home cook may run into a bit of a problem. Remember how we, in the introduction, mentioned that wheat flour used to be a bit of a luxury commodity in Vietnam? Well, this historical fact had a significant impact on Vietnam’s Bánh Mì tradition. Despite the many wonders of globalization (cough!), a traditional Bánh Mì sandwich, you see, is to this date often made using a Vietnamese baguette; a baguette made from a combination of wheat flour and rice flour.

Vietnamese baguettes… Aka Bánh Mì’s Photo Credit: Chris Conway, Hilleary Osheroff

 

Born out of sheer necessity, the Vietnamese baguette is a stroke of fusion cooking genius. The combination of wheat and rice flour creates a baguette with a thinner crust and a more fluffy and airy interior than regular baguettes, and one that actually carries a bit of Asian flavor and funk with it – just perfect for this sort of fusion sandwich.

Now, this is all fine for traditional Vietnamese street kitchens with access to local Vietnamese baked goods. But what of us Westerners? Well, if you don’t have access to a local Vietnamese bakery or a Vietnamese supermarket, you’re a bit on the unlucky side.

If you’ve got the time, spirit and are technically gifted into the art of baking, you may try producing your own, bearing in mind that baguettes are certainly not the least difficult let alone least frustrating pieces of baked goods to pull off… Or you can throw in the towel and use a really good all-wheat baguette or other bread with a thin, crispy crust and airy crumb. It’s not 100% authentic, but honestly it’s the route that most Bánh Mì pushers in the Western world take! And as this article mentions, the secret to a perfect Bánh Mì sandwich may not even be the bread… It’s pâté?

 

Bánh Mì essentials: Pâté

Only two ingredients into the mix and we’re already jumping straight into strange town… Pâté in a meat-stuffed sandwich? Really? This may well be the question that pops to some reader’s minds. While others again may be asking themselves the simple question “what on earth is pâté really?”

Pâté essentially is a spread made from cooked meat – often in the shape of pork or chicken, usually consisting at least partially of the liver of said animal – blended with aromatics, spices and more often than not a healthy glug of Cognac, Armagnac or Brandy… And believe me when I say that such a concoction tastes a hell of a lot better than it sounds. Even so, smearing a sandwich with a spread of (liver) pâté before adding more meat along with several other traditional sandwich ingredients is going to sound a bit weird to some. I know, it’s okay, it certainly did to me at first, and to be perfectly honest I’ve really no idea where this particular tradition came from. What I can tell you, though, is that weird as it sounds – it works.

chicken liver pâté for banh mi sandwiches

Chicken liver pâté – it may not be pretty, but it sure is tasty!

 

The extra creaminess, fattiness, primal qualities and umami from the pâté adds an extra layer of depth to the flavor profile of this traditional sandwich and some stark contrasts to the crunch of the bread and vegetables. The crisp, crunchy and relatively lean ingredients, I suppose, just need a little fattiness, depth and contrast to really shine. So, please, don’t skip this step, curious as it sounds.

In terms of pâté, you can use either chicken or pork with both supposedly being traditional. As far as taste and texture is concerned, I prefer a smooth rather than a chunky variety and with pork already making up a substantial part of our Bánh Mì experience of the day, I’d prefer chicken pâté for extra contrast and added flavor.

For the non-squeamish members of the audience who are keen on making things from scratch and willing to get a funky with it, I’ve included an easy, basic recipe for a French-inspired chicken liver pâté below. If, however, the concept of cleaning, cooking and blending livers upset you, you can probably get someone to do the hard work for you, i.e. buy a ready-made pate at a well-stocked butcher or food market.

 

Bánh Mì essentials: Mayonnaise

Right, with that out of the way, it’s time to get things back to normal. Pâté isn’t our only spread of choice for Bánh Mì authenticity. No, we’re also going to include another absolute French classic: Mayonnaise.

Mayonnaise is perhaps the greatest French addition to world cuisine, if we disregard for a minute Sauce Bearnaise. Few sauces (yes, mayonnaise is technically a sauce), save maybe ketchup and salsa, have gained broader international recognition and more widespread culinary appeal than mayonnaise, and in fact, when it comes to making sandwiches, mayonnaise is perhaps the most frequently used ingredient save the bread itself.

mayonnaise

Mmm… Mayonnaise… Photo credit: jules:stonesoup

 

As such, it goes to reason that in a partially French-inspired fusion sandwich, we should of course use mayo as a binding component and –  with such a profound love for the product – it goes to reason that we should use a quality mayo. In a perfect world, we would, of course, make our own so quite naturally I’ve included a recipe for perfect homemade mayonnaise below as a bonus, so that those so inclined may make their Bánh Mì Sandwich entirely from scratch.

If, however, for whatever reason you may sport, you are too scared to make your own homemade mayonnaise (chicken!), please do use a quality store-bought excuse like Hellmann’s or Stokes’… You know the stuff that mentions real eggs on the jar! And with that subtle jab out of the way, let’s go on to the main star of the show… Pork!

 

Bánh Mì essentials: Grilled pork

As mentioned earlier, the great determining factor of a Grilled Pork Bánh Mì Sandwich is that it is made from slices grilled or barbecued pork. When it comes to selecting the proper cut of pork for your Grilled Bánh Mì Sandwich, the options are many and they all have their distinct advantages and disadvantages. Before I go ahead and tell you which I, The Johan, think is right for the job, here is a pretty extensive list of popular cuts for Grilled Pork Bánh Mì Sandwiches as well as their pros and cons:

  • Pork belly: the fattiest of choices and a go-to cut in Asian cuisine, especially when it comes to barbecue or slow roasting. Pork belly produces a succulent, melt-in-your-mouth but also noticeably fatty sandwich filling.
  • Pork shoulder: Leaner than pork belly, pork shoulder still contains a fair amount of fat and a larger amount of connective tissue. As a result of its composition, pork shoulder needs extended amount of cooking time for the fat and connective tissue to render, but produces a tender, meaty and incredibly flavorful sandwich filling when cooled and sliced.
  • Pork loin: Pork loin, especially when trimmed, is definitely on the leaner side of classic pork cuts and also comes free of connective tissue. As a result, pork loin not only cooks relatively quickly it also delivers a low-fat alternative to pork shoulder or belly – at the cost of being on the less flavorful side and standing a greater chance of drying out during cooking.
  • Pork tenderloin: Pork tenderloin is the single quickest and most expensive option when it comes to Bánh Mì fillings. It can be cooked in as little as a few minutes or less and offers a tender and nearly fat-free experience. Pork tenderloin is more expensive than pork loin and doesn’t feel quite as chewy and dry if accidentally overcooked. It is, however, considered by some (present company included) to be quite expensive and quite lacking in flavor. Especially for the purpose of a Bánh Mì sandwich filling.

Now, whichever cut you chose for your Bánh Mì adventure should, of course, rely completely on your personal preferences. If I were to offer any bit of advice on the issue, however (and hey, it’s my blog after all), I would go with pork shoulder. I quite simply adore pork shoulder for the job owing to its tenderness, flavor profile and meat to fat ratio which to me is spot on – as long as the shoulder is primed and cooked correctly.

Speaking of priming, when making any sort of pork-based sandwich filling I prefer overnight brining of the pork shoulder. Now, for those new to the concept, brining refers to the process of submerging the pork shoulder in a highly flavorful, highly salty liquid which helps tenderize and flavor the meat from the inside out – in much of the way that a marinade wouldn’t. (for more on the science of marinades and brines, check out this post) My seasonings of choice for the brining process generally include classic Asian aromatics like lemon grass, ginger, garlic and chilies coupled with fish sauce, salt and dark sugar for a signature Southeast Asian twang, but more on that later.

Brined, grilled and sliced pork – the perfect Bánh Mì foundation!

 

The brining should be followed by a rinse, a meticulous browning of the pork shoulder on all sides and a low and careful slow-roasting to a core temperature of around 75-80C which in my book makes for an more tender, more flavorful result than quick roasting over high heat.

If you prefer a slightly quicker, leaner experience, you can use the very same procedure listed in the recipe with either of the leaner cuts listed above, but do remember to adjust your target core temperature if you’re going for a leaner cut. Core temperatures of above 65-68C will start to severely dry out and even toughen lean pork cuts like loin and tenderloin.

If a fat-free diet really isn’t your thing at all, you can, of course – at your own discretion – go for an even fatter cut like pork belly, it’s all up to you! Pick a cut that tickles your fancy and roll with it. Things will be awesome – promise!

 

Bánh Mì essentials: Vegetables and herbs

So, with all this talk of pork, pâté and the likes, you would be excused to think that proteins are the main body and soul of a Bánh Mì sandwich, but that would – at best – be a truth with room for modifications. In Southeast Asian cuisine in general, and in Vietnamese cuisine in particular, you see, vegetables and herbs play an incredibly important, nay dominant, role.

The freshness, vibrancy and crunch of vegetables, whether fresh or pickled, coupled with the pungency of fresh herbs and a dominant yet carefully balanced use of fresh chilies and other stronger aromatics are an integral part of many Vietnamese dishes, including staples such as Bánh Mì sandwiches (or even Pho).

As such, traditional and mandatory Bánh Mì sandwich additions usually include both carrot, daikon, cucumber, cilantro (leaves of the coriander plant), and sliced chilies. As Vietnamese palates seem to generally prefer fresh, vibrant, zingy and not necessarily particularly hot flavors, the carrots and daikon are usually of the pickled variety for extra bite, the cilantro plentiful and the chilies of the not particularly hot variety (Jalapeño and Serrano are popular choices in the west) as to allow the fresh, herbal flavors to shine through.

All dressed up and ready to go…

 

It should be noted, too, that unlike American sandwich makers (bless them!), Vietnamese Bánh Mì builders have a habit of not over-stuffing their sandwiches with meat. The meat is in there, flavorful and present, but in a quantity that allows the vegetables, herbs and condiments to shine and play an equally important part both in terms of flavor and quantity.

But enough talk, let’s build!

 

How to make an authentic  Grilled Pork Bánh Mì sandwich

Okay, so I’m not going to lie here. As far as building a sandwich goes, this is probably going to take a bit more work than you are used to. So, dear reader, fear not when you gaze at the length of this recipe. I’ve done my best to break it down into manageable chunks and I recommend you do the same when reading it. Divide and conquer shall be our strategy of attack and we shall do just fine!

Grilled Pork Bánh Mì

A perfect from-scratch recipe for an authentic Vietnamese Pork Bánh Mì Sandwich.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Vietnamese
Keyword Sandwich, Vietnamese
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours
Servings 2
Author Johan

Ingredients

Pork shoulder:

  • 2 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 liters water
  • 1 kilo ice
  • 140 grams salt
  • 50 grams unrefined sugar
  • 2 lemon grass stalks cut into small pieces
  • 1 inch ginger sliced thin
  • 3-4 dried chilies stems and seeds removed
  • 2 garlic cloves smashed
  • 20 ml fish sauce

Chicken liver pâté:

  • 250 gram chicken livers
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 100 grams butter
  • 5 cl cognac or brandy
  • Salt
  • Black pepper freshly ground

Mayonnaise:

  • 1 egg yolk certified salmonella free or pasteurized
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • black pepper Freshly ground
  • Salt
  • 200 ml vegetable oil neutrally flavored oils work best

Pickled vegetables:

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 Daikon Asian radish
  • 200 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 100 grams sugar

Additional ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber julienned or cut into thin strips
  • Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 1 red chili sliced, jalapeño and serrano work well
  • 10 cilantro sprigs

Instructions

Brine pork shoulder:

  1. Bring water to a gentle simmer in a large pot

  2. Add salt, sugar, lemon grass, ginger,chilies garlic and fish sauce

  3. Stir until salt and sugar is dissolved then remove pot from the heat
  4. Add ice to brine mixture and allow to cool completely
  5. Once cooled, add pork shoulder to brine and refrigerate overnight

Pickled vegetables:

  1. Add sugar and vinegar to a small sauce pan and heat, stirring now and then, until sugar has dissolved, then set aside to cool.
  2. Cut carrots and daikon into julienne or thin strips using either a sharp knife and steady hand, vegetable peeler or mandolin.
  3. Add the cut vegetables to a bowl, pour over pickling liquid, cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours before using.

Make mayonnaise

  1. Before making mayonnaise, ensure that all ingredients are room temperature. Let the egg yolk sit (covered) at room temperature for about an hour of needed.

  2. In a large bowl, add egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice and black pepper.

  3. Using a hand-held mixer (or a whisk and a strong wrist), beat the ingredients for about a minute until completely mixed, light and airy.

  4. While whisking continually, carefully start adding the oil to the bowl at the rate of a few drops at a time.

  5. As the oil drops hit the eggs, they’ll start emulsifying into the egg, creating a uniform mass that slowly thickens.
  6. Once the first drops have been incorporated you can start to slowly drip in more oil, still whisking vigorously and making sure the oil integrates as you go.
  7. Once about a teaspoon of oil has been thoroughly integrated, the emulsion in the bowl will be quite stable and you can start pouring in oil in a slow, steady stream. Still whisking as you go, of course.
  8. Continue adding oil until your desired thickness has been reached. The more you add, the thicker the mayo will become.
  9. Once happy with the consistency, taste and season with salt as needed and add a little more lemon juice for extra twang if you so desire.

Pâte:

  1. Wash and clean chicken livers, removing any white strings or nasty bits, then pat dry.
  2. Add 10 grams of butter and an equal amount of cooking oil to a pan set over medium-high heat and allow butter to melt and come to temperature.
  3. Add livers and cook for about two minutes on one side.
  4. Turn livers, season with salt and black pepper, and at the same time add shallots and garlic to the pan.
  5. Cook livers for another two or so minutes, then add the cognac and cook for an additional minute.
  6. Transfer livers, onions and liquid to a high-power blender or food processor and process for several minutes until smooth and uniform. The finished result should be lump-free and non-grainy.
  7. After several minutes of processing, start working in the rest of the butter a few cubes at the time, still processing as you go to make sure it’s completely integrated.
  8. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
  9. OPTIONAL: If mousse seems and tastes grainy at this point, you can force it through a strainer to remove any lumps or graininess.
  10. Transfer paste to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until pâté has set and is ready for use.

Grilled pork:

  1. Remove pork shoulder from its brine and pat thoroughly dry.
  2. Allow pork shoulder to rest at room temperature while your oven heats up to 150C.
  3. Heat a large pan over high heat and add a tablespoon of cooking oil.

  4. Sear pork shoulder thoroughly for a couple of minutes on all sides until well and thoroughly browned.

  5. Slide pork shoulder into oven and cook for at least a couple of hours until a probe thermometer measures a core temperature of 75C.

  6. Remove roasted pork shoulder from the oven and allow to cool before slicing as thinly as possible.

Assemble Banh Mi Sandwich:

  1. Slice baguette length-wise, smear the bottom half with pâté and the other with mayonnaise.
  2. Layer slices of pork on the bottom half of the baguette and top with plenty of pickled carrots, pickled daikon, cucumber, chili slices and cilantro stems.
  3. Add top half of baguette and cut your sandwich into two pieces along the middle.
  4. Serve and enjoy.

 

Serving the perfect Bánh Mì Sandwich

So, with all that hard work out of the way, you may find yourself wondering… Hey, Johan… How and when do you properly serve a Bánh Mì Sandwich?

Well, if you ask the Vietnamese, they will probably tell you to do so for breakfast, drizzled with Maggi seasoning sauce and call it a day. Well, okay, they don’t call it a day just after breakfast, but you know what I mean… Bánh Mì sandwiches, in all their meaty glory, are apparently considered breakfast food in Southeast Asia and a bit too dry for lunch or dinner.

If you ask this pasty white boy, however, lunch is a much more befitting time of day for this starch-wrapped and meaty umami bomb… Oh and the abomination that is Maggi sauce needs to be removed from the equation entirely. Use Sriracha instead, lots of Sriracha.

Banh mi sandwich with sriracha and mayo

A homemade Bánh Mì all slathered in Sriracha? Get… In… My… Belly!

 

Oh and one more clever trich… Serving Bánh Mì Sandwiches for lunch, especially if doing so on the weekend, offers you the luxury of planning and preparing ahead as well. See, if you ask this pasty white guy, the ingredients for your Bánh Mì Sandwich – the meat, the pâté and mayonnaise – are best made the day before your Bánh Mì Sandwich is to be enjoyed. This also gives you the added bonus of time and peace to finish up and prep everything so that you may seem like a total boss when it comes time to assemble, plate and serve. Which is always a good thing! Everybody loves a boss in the kitchen!

Serve your Bánh Mì piled high with pickled vegetables and a side of your favorite Southeast Asian beer. For added funk and fire, drizzle with a bit of quality fish sauce and as much Sriracha as you see fit. Share with a loved one or other favorite person if you must. Happiness will ensue.

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? Leave a Reply!