Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that has become popular all over the world. It is a delicious combination of crusty bread, savory meat, fresh vegetables, and flavorful condiments. It is also easy to make and customize according to your taste and preference.
In this blog post, we will show you how to make and enjoy Banh Mi, the iconic Vietnamese sandwich. We will also tell you some of the history and variations of this dish, and where to find the best Banh Mi in Vietnam and abroad.
What is Banh Mi?
Banh Mi is a Vietnamese word that means “bread”. However, it also refers to a type of sandwich that is made with a baguette-like bread that has a thin crust and a soft interior. The bread is usually split lengthwise and filled with various ingredients, such as meat, pate, mayonnaise, pickled vegetables, cilantro, cucumber, chili, and seasoning.
Banh Mi originated from the French influence in Vietnam during the colonial period. The French introduced the baguette and other baked goods to Vietnam in the 19th century. The Vietnamese adapted the baguette to their local ingredients and climate, making it lighter and airier. They also added their own fillings and flavors to create a unique sandwich that reflects their culture and cuisine.
Banh Mi became a popular street food in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) in the 1950s, especially among the working class who needed a quick and cheap meal. It was also known as Banh Mi Sai Gon or Saigon-style bread. After the Vietnam War, many Vietnamese refugees brought Banh Mi to other countries, such as Australia, Canada, and the United States. Banh Mi soon gained popularity among people of different backgrounds and tastes, becoming a global phenomenon.
How to Make Banh Mi
Making Banh Mi is not difficult if you have the right ingredients and tools. You can either buy or make your own bread, meat, pate, mayonnaise, pickled vegetables, and condiments. You can also adjust the amount and type of fillings according to your preference.
Here are the basic steps to make Banh Mi:
- Prepare the bread: You can use store-bought or homemade baguettes for your Banh Mi. The bread should be crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. You can toast or warm up the bread before filling it if you like.
- Prepare the meat: You can use any kind of meat for your Banh Mi, such as pork, chicken, beef, or tofu. The meat can be grilled, roasted, fried, or boiled. Some of the common meats used for Banh Mi are cha lua (Vietnamese pork loaf), thit nguoi (Vietnamese ham), thit nuong (grilled pork), ga nuong (grilled chicken), or xiu mai (pork meatballs).
- Prepare the pate: Pate is a paste made from liver and other ingredients that adds richness and flavor to your Banh Mi. You can use any kind of pate that you like, such as pork pate, chicken pate, or vegetarian pate. You can buy ready-made pate or make your own by blending cooked liver with butter, garlic, onion, herbs, and spices.
- Prepare the mayonnaise: Mayonnaise is a creamy sauce made from egg yolks, oil, vinegar or lemon juice, salt, and sugar. It adds moisture and creaminess to your Banh Mi. You can use regular mayonnaise or make your own by whisking egg yolks with oil until thickened, then adding vinegar or lemon juice, salt, and sugar to taste.
- Prepare the pickled vegetables: Pickled vegetables are vegetables that are preserved in vinegar, sugar, salt, and water. They add crunch and tanginess to your Banh Mi. The most common pickled vegetables used for Banh Mi are carrot and daikon radish, but you can also use onion, cabbage, or cucumber. You can buy ready-made pickled vegetables or make your own by slicing the vegetables thinly and soaking them in a mixture of vinegar, sugar, salt, and water for at least an hour or overnight.
- Prepare the cilantro: Cilantro is a herb that has a fresh and citrusy flavor. It adds color and aroma to your Banh Mi. You can use fresh cilantro leaves or stems, or chop them finely if you prefer.
- Prepare the cucumber: Cucumber is a vegetable that has a crisp and refreshing texture. It adds freshness and hydration to your Banh Mi. You can use any kind of cucumber, but the best ones are thin-skinned and seedless. You can slice the cucumber thinly or cut it into long strips.
- Prepare the chili: Chili is a fruit that has a spicy and pungent taste. It adds heat and excitement to your Banh Mi. You can use any kind of chili, but the most common ones are bird’s eye chili, jalapeno, or serrano. You can slice the chili thinly, or remove the seeds and ribs if you want less spice.
- Prepare the seasoning: Seasoning is a liquid that adds flavor and saltiness to your Banh Mi. You can use any kind of seasoning that you like, such as soy sauce, fish sauce, Maggi seasoning, or salt and pepper. You can drizzle the seasoning over the fillings or dip the bread in it before filling it.
- Assemble the sandwich: To assemble the sandwich, you need to cut the bread lengthwise, but not all the way through. You can hollow out some of the bread to make more room for the fillings. Then, you need to spread some pate and mayonnaise on both sides of the bread. Next, you need to layer the meat, pickled vegetables, cilantro, cucumber, and chili on one side of the bread. Finally, you need to drizzle some seasoning over the fillings and close the sandwich. You can cut the sandwich in half or into smaller pieces if you like.
How to Enjoy Banh Mi
Banh Mi is a versatile and satisfying sandwich that can be enjoyed in many ways. You can eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a snack. You can eat it hot or cold, plain or with sauces. You can eat it alone or with other dishes, such as soup, salad, or noodles.
Some of the ways to enjoy Banh Mi are:
- Eat it fresh: The best way to enjoy Banh Mi is to eat it fresh, right after it is made. The bread should be crusty and warm, the fillings should be juicy and flavorful, and the contrast of textures and tastes should be delightful. You can eat it with your hands or with a knife and fork, depending on your preference.
- Eat it later: If you want to eat Banh Mi later, you can wrap it in foil or plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to a day. You can reheat it in the oven or microwave before eating it, or eat it cold if you don’t mind. However, the bread might lose some of its crispiness and freshness over time.
- Eat it with sauces: If you want to add more flavor and moisture to your Banh Mi, you can eat it with some sauces. Some of the sauces that go well with Banh Mi are hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce, sweet chili sauce, peanut sauce, or nuoc cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce).
- Eat it with soup: If you want to make your Banh Mi more filling and comforting, you can eat it with some soup. Some of the soups that go well with Banh Mi are pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup), bun bo hue (Vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup), bun rieu (Vietnamese crab noodle soup), or canh chua (Vietnamese sour soup).
- Eat it with salad: If you want to make your Banh Mi more healthy and refreshing, you can eat it with some salad. Some of the salads that go well with Banh Mi are goi ga (Vietnamese chicken salad), goi du du (Vietnamese green papaya salad), goi xoai (Vietnamese green mango salad), or goi cuon (Vietnamese fresh spring rolls).
How to Make Different Variations of Banh Mi
Banh Mi is a versatile and adaptable sandwich that can be made with different variations of fillings and flavors. You can experiment with different meats, vegetables, herbs, and condiments to create your own version of Banh Mi. You can also follow some of the popular and traditional variations of Banh Mi that are available in Vietnam and abroad.
Here are some of the variations of Banh Mi that you can try:
- Banh Mi Thit Nguoi: This is the classic and most common variation of Banh Mi that uses Vietnamese ham (thit nguoi) as the main meat. It is also known as Banh Mi Dac Biet (special Banh Mi) or Banh Mi Thap Cam (mixed Banh Mi). It usually includes other meats, such as cha lua (Vietnamese pork loaf), nem chua (fermented pork sausage), or xiu mai (pork meatballs), along with the usual fillings and condiments.
- Banh Mi Thit Nuong: This is a variation of Banh Mi that uses grilled pork (thit nuong) as the main meat. It is also known as Banh Mi Xa Xiu (char siu Banh Mi) or Banh Mi Heo Quay (roasted pork belly Banh Mi). It usually includes a sweet and savory sauce made from honey, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and five-spice powder, along with the usual fillings and condiments.
- Banh Mi Ga Nuong: This is a variation of Banh Mi that uses grilled chicken (ga nuong) as the main meat. It is also known as Banh Mi Ga Roti (roasted chicken Banh Mi) or Banh Mi Ga Xe Phay (shredded chicken salad Banh Mi). It usually includes a tangy and spicy sauce made from lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chili, along with the usual fillings and condiments.
- Banh Mi Cha Ca: This is a variation of Banh Mi that uses fried fish cake (cha ca) as the main meat. It is also known as Banh Mi Ca Vien (fish ball Banh Mi) or Banh Mi Ca Chien (fried fish Banh Mi). It usually includes a creamy and nutty sauce made from mayonnaise and peanut butter, along with the usual fillings and condiments.
- Banh Mi Chay: This is a variation of Banh Mi that is vegetarian or vegan. It usually uses tofu, seitan, mushrooms, or tempeh as the main meat substitute. It also uses vegan versions of pate, mayonnaise, and cheese, along with the usual fillings and condiments.
In conclusion, Banh Mi is a delicious and popular Vietnamese sandwich that has become a global phenomenon. It is a combination of crusty bread, savory meat, fresh vegetables, and flavorful condiments. It is also easy to make and customize according to your taste and preference.
If you want to make and enjoy Banh Mi, you can follow our guide and tips above. You can also browse our website for some of the best recipes and variations of Banh Mi. You can also contact us for any questions or feedback about our blog post and products. We hope to hear from you soon!