You don’t have to travel to Vietnam to get your hands around a good bánh mì these days as most metropolitan cities offer multiple riffs on these delightful Vietnamese sandwiches. At the same time, bánh mì is easily made at home and perfect for showcasing a garden’s bounty.
Bánh mì originated in the 1870s during French colonization in Vietnam. The bread, reminiscent of a French baguette, was simply filled with butter, ham or patè and mainly consumed by the wealthy. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the sandwich featured Vietnamese flavors and became mainstream. From then on it was referred to as bánh mì, literally “wheat bread.”
The basic components of a bánh mì include warm, crusty bread that is soft on the inside; mayonnaise or patè for a creaminess; Maggi seasoning or soy sauce and marinated meat or tofu for a salty bite; pickles for a sweet and sour balance; crisp veggies for texture; and fresh herbs for dimension. And while most bánh mì ingredients can be purchased, impress your friends by making or growing a few components.
Đồ chua, literally “pickles,” are made using a quick-pickling method in which daikon (Asian radish) and carrots are salted and then soaked in a sugar-vinegar solution. Homegrown cilantro, mint or Thai basil, and thin slices of freshly harvested onions, cucumbers, peppers and chilies complement with contrasting flavors and textures. Bon appètit and Chúc ngon miệng!
Bánh Mì Recipe
- 1 petite Vietnamese bánh mì or 6” section from a baguette
- Soy or Maggi Seasoning
- Choice of meat—sausage, ham, tofu, grilled pork, chicken
- Cucumber, 3-4 slices
- Red onion, 1 slice separated into rings (optional)
- Jalapeño, 3-4 slices (optional)
- Đồ Chua (see our recipe below or purchase some)
- Cilantro, 2-3 fresh sprigs
- Mint and/or Thai basil, 3-4 whole leaves
- Preheat an oven or toaster oven to 350°F. Heat bread for 5-7 minutes until the outside is crusty and the interior is warm.
- Slice the bread in half lengthwise while warm. Spread mayonnaise on both sides of the bread.
- Sprinkle with soy or Maggi seasoning.
- Layer meat, cucumbers, onion, jalapeño, đồ chua, and fresh herbs. Cut in half before serving.
Đồ Chua Recipe
- 1 Daikon Radish, peeled and cut into 3” x ¼” x ¼” matchsticks
- ½ Carrots, peeled and cut into 3” x ¼” x ¼” matchsticks
- 2 Tbsp. Salt
- 1 ½ C Water
- 1/3 C Granulated Sugar
- 1/3 C White or Rice Vinegar
- Mix daikon, carrot and salt in a large strainer set over bowl. Allow to sit for 30 minutes until carrots and daikon are pliable but still have a crunch to them. Rinse and drain.
- In a small saucepan heat water, sugar and vinegar until sugar is just dissolved. Allow to cool.
- Once vinegar solution is cool, pour over vegetables. Allow to sit for at least 3 hours before using.
- Store vegetables in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.
*Adjust the amounts of salt, sugar and vinegar to suit your taste, however keep the pickling process the same.