Vietnamese banh mi is a sandwich that's constantly being reinvented and reinterpreted. For example, at David Chang's acclaimed Momofuku Ssam Bar in Manhattan, there's a version that sells for $9. The bread was a bit too crusty hard for me, the pickles rather flaccid, and the three-meat terrine was unfortunately nondescript that evening. Nevertheless, I appreciated his interpretation as a sign that Vietnamese food is part of the current gourmet hipster food culture. Chang has a Viet-American chef among his staff to boot, which perhaps explains Momofuku's roasted Brussel sprouts tossed with nuoc mam fish sauce -- an addictive salty-sweet-spicy-pungent treat. (Note: When I used the Gourmet recipe (linked above), my cooking time was half of their estimate. The oven is hot so keep an eye on the Brussel sprouts or they'll be toast.)
Sunset Magazine's November issue included a post-Thanksgiving version of banh mi that was essentially a spicy turkey and cabbage salad stuffed into a toasted roll. Their Vietnamese-style turkey subs called for chili garlic sauce (tuong ot toi) and no mayonnaise to soften the blow so watch out for the heat and vinegar blast!
If you've eaten banh mi these days -- either in Vietnam or abroad - there's a meatball version called banh mi xiu mai. Check Noodlepie's page on banh mi in Vietnam and you'll see that there are many fans of that version. I'm not one of them, and have never made one myself, though there's a xiu mai recipe that you may want to try it out!
Regardless, why deny people who love the Vietnamese-Chinese-Italian blending. Blake Killian at the Serious Eats website, recently posted on a banh mi sao [sic] mai that competed in the New Orleans Po' Boy Preservation Festival for best po' boy.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a link to Brigitte Nguyen's $2,000 Vietnamese pork burger, which was a Vietnamese sandwich in a bun. Inspired by Brigitte, Chuck created and posted a spectacular looking Vietnamese pulled pork recipe on his Sunday Nite Dinner blog. He topped a burger bun with the tasty-looking pork.
Now how about putting that pulled pork in a baguette or bolillo roll with all the usual banh mi suspects. Here's what you'll need and how to do it:
- nice light baguette, split, toasted and insides gutted
- whole egg mayonnaise (don't skimp on the fat), smear the inside of the toasted baguette with mayo
- soy sauce or Maggi Seasoning sauce, give the bread a shot of the brown condiment of choice for savory depth
Then add the meat and tuck in the following:
- daikon and carrot pickle (do chua)
- cucumber strips (seeds removed)
- cilantro sprigs
- thinly sliced jalapeno (resist chili garlic sauce because it overwhelms)
Cut it in half and eat. Delish. For more details, check the banh mi recipe page.
If you have banh mi inventions of your own, let us know!