Banh Mi?! You hardly know me!
July 7, 2012 12:45 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to a potluck-style picnic in a couple weeks and I'm taken with the idea of doing a Bahn Mi bar – what's your favorite recipes for making your own Bahn Mi sandwiches that would translate well to the outdoors? I've never made my own Bahn Mi before and I want to do a meat and a vegetarian filling so ideas for both very welcome!
posted by amanda to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I make my vegetarian banh mi similar to this one. I usually just add cliantro, cucumber, carrot, sriracha and sometimes a wasabi vegenaise. The trick is to make sure you slice the tofu thin so there's more surface area for the glazed goodness. I also usually load up more tofu than what they show in the picture.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 12:58 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

For the meat, you could do shredded chicken if you didn't want to go for the traditional pork products. Tofu for the vegetarian option. Try to find a good French bread with a thin, crispy crust and almost cottony crumb. I personally don't like banh mi on baguette as much, but you do see it. Are you planning to make your own mayonnaise? Any recipe for mayo should be fine, or use a high-quality store bought. The just the regular toppings: cilantro, shredded pickled carrot and daikon, sliced fresh jalapeno, and thin strips of cucumber, and a very light sprinkle of soy sauce, with sriracha on the side.
posted by CheeseLouise at 2:40 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you have a Vietnamese store nearby, go shopping there. When I lived in Washington there was a Vietnamese market that sold the special Banh Mi bread. It's lighter than traditional French bread - a standard bread will seem too dense.

Make sure to get hoisin sauce, the brown sweet sauce that is often served alongside sriracha.

If you can't find pickled carrot and daikon, you can make it yourself by packing the shredded veggies in salt and letting them ferment for a couple of days.

I also like basil and raw jalapenos as toppings.
posted by scose at 2:51 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's all about the dressing and the nearly non-bread bread. You could certainly get away with hot dog buns, though, if you're in Timbuktu or something.

I like the liverwurst idea at Passionate Eater and I found a decent launching point for the non-filling parts (including bread).
posted by rhizome at 3:17 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've used bolillo rolls for bread before (I live in a highly Hispanic area), and it worked out well.
posted by Fig at 3:45 PM on July 7, 2012

You will likely get more responses over at Great site with very knowledgeable and helpful members.
posted by karlos at 7:17 PM on July 7, 2012

I think hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce, sliced jalapeños and cilantro are the key to getting random ingredients to taste "banh mi"-like. If doing vegetarian, it's nice to have a smear of mayo too, just to add some fattiness and flavour. Getting some inexpensive pate or liverwurst will help make your meat selections taste more authentic. And I do think that the bread really matters. If you can get the right rolls from a Vietnamese bakery, that will go long way to making things taste right. Hot dog buns, for example, won't cut it.

Tofu and lots of shredded and pickled veggies for the vegetarian version. Carrots, cucumber, daikon or other radish. Maybe a dash of soy or fish sauce too, if that's OK with your vegetarians. For meat, I agree with the shredded chicken idea. Or you could do some kind of pork— shredded roast pork, thinly sliced tenderloin, or even some cold cuts like a chicken or pork bologna.
posted by amusebuche at 11:26 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've eaten banh mi thit in the USA, Australia and Viet Nam. I've had some shockers in Boston (hot dog bun?!), and have heard of sone terrible renditions in Australia.

The best ones keep it simple and elegant, however I do have a soft spot for an overstuffed, super-meaty version served here in my home town. I'll give you both versions:

Traditional banh mi thit requires the following ingredients that can be purchased from Asian groceries and Vietnamese bakeries:
-Rice flour demi baguette.
- Maggi seasoning (looks like soy but is so much tastier than soy)
-Pickled julienned carrot (DIY overnight in vinegar and sugar solution).
-Slices of cucumber
-Assorted charcuterie including head cheese and cha lua (garlicky pork roll) - these can be purchased at any good Asian grocery, make sure you get ones wrapped in leaves, not just in plastic).
-Thinly sliced char siu pork (red roasted pork neck, available at Chinese BBQ places with ducks hanging from the window.
-Chopped red chili
-Sprigs of coriander
-Cheap arse tinned pate (usually from an Eastern European country) that contains pork as well as liver.
-Vietnamese meat balls (siu mai) -they get squished into the sandwich. Good recipe on the wanderingchopsticks blog.

If you want the crazy overstuffed Western version, add lemongrass chicken bits, and Chinese crispy skin roasted pork to the mix.

As for vegetarian, I'd look at all the faux meats (usually made of tofu and other veggie protein) sold at the Asian grocery and see if they have something you can stuff in the sandwich. My local sells packets of stir fried lemongrass "chicken" along with other ready to eat vegetarian meals near the check out. You may also try calling up your nearest Vietnamese Buddhist temple- they often make vegetarian meals and "meats" to fundraise for various programs.
posted by travellingincognito at 6:22 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Forgot to mention the Mayo/butter! Whip up egg yolks and veggie oil to the consistency of icing. Spread liberally.
posted by travellingincognito at 6:24 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Some ideas (and links) for just this thing were posted at The Kitchn a little while back...
posted by mon-ma-tron at 6:49 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, y'all! You've helped me to focus my ideas (and now I've located a Vietnamese grocery in my area!) – I'll report back on awesomeness!
posted by amanda at 9:01 AM on July 9, 2012

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