My obsession for food this week is all about Banh Mi, a lucious Vietnamese baguette sandwich filled with meats, crunchy pickled veggies, herbs, mayo and heat from chilies. It’s the product of the French influence on Vietnamese culture at its tastiest.
As much as I have heard about Banh Mi and sampled it in Seattle Vietnamese sandwich shops, my real love affair with Banh Mi began less than a year ago in the Banh Mi home city of Saigon. I still remember the experience vividly – I was on a mission to find the best Bahn Mi in town. Late at night and by myself, after managing to get lost a few times, I was finally munching my sandwich on the street corner while watching a wave of motorbikes flow by. It was a blissful culinary moment.
I admit to not being much of a sandwich fan – with the exception of a French baguette – but everything about this Vietnamese sandwich and its explosion of flavor was perfect – the aroma of fish sauce and vinegar, the texture of cucumber, carrot and daikon, piles of savory meat and pate on light, crusty bread. I fell in love at first crunch.
Now back home in Seattle, I have made many versions of Bahn Mi, as I continue to create recipes for my Vietnamese cooking classes. By chance, the one I prepared today in my kitchen was the closest in taste to the ones I had in Saigon. And I included my own special ingredient – Washabi mayonnaise. Let’s keep it a secret between us!
Next time, you’re wanting to expand your Vietnamese culinary horizons, search out a Bahn Mi sandwich shop and enjoy.
Banh Mi, unstacked by NY Times