Saturday, October 22, 2011

Banh Mi - Vietnamese Sandwich

There are two main ingredients that make your home spun banh mi taste authentic. First is the bread. The bread itself needs to have a light and airy center with a light flaky crust that is extremely crispy. So when you bite into it, the crust shatters, scattering crumbs below. A look alike soft chewy sub roll won’t cut it, and that’s why I have never attempted to make them at home until now. The second is the pickled carrot and daikon mixture that is flavored with simple sweet vinegar.

On a recent trip to Portland I discovered that I could buy fresh baked banh mi loaves at Fubon Market along with pre shredded carrots and daikon.

All I needed now was the meat filling and it had to be as fresh as the rest of the ingredients as well as flavorful. I stumbled upon a small hole in the wall Chinese bbq restaurant named “Best Taste” and picked up some char siu and roast pork for the meat part of my sandwich, hoping to give my sandwich that sweet and savory five spice flavor. To my surprise, it was as its name states, the “best tasting” roast duck, pork and char siu that I have found in Portland.
I hit the jackpot! My husband was going to be one happy man. We were having banh mi sandwiches for dinner.

The base of the bun needs a good smear of mayo and a generous dose of sriracha (depending on how spicy you like it). A layer of cilantro is a must for most, but my husband doesn’t care for it.  Then a layer of thinly sliced meats, chicken or pork, its up to you.
The reaction from my husband with his mouth half full from his first bite, that shattered crumbs all over his plate, said, with excitement, this sandwich is delicious. He enjoyed his banh me so much that he ate them two nights in a row.
We successful created banh mi in a town that is absent of this Vietnamese delight. There is only one recipe to share because the rest of the ingredients were made by the pros.

Vinegar Seasoning for Carrots and Daikon
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup white vinegar
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 cups shredded carrots and daikon

Mix ingredients together until sugar has completely dissolved. Pour over your vegetables and let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Drain before placing on sandwich.

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