In re: Bánh mì

Okay, so been a Vietnamese kick recently as the post on Pho may have hinted at, today I’ll turn our attention to bánh mì:

Bánh mì in Vietnamese refers to bread – specifically the baguette that we can thank French colonialism for introducing to Vietnam, but the name bánh mì at least here in the States also speaks to the amazing sandwich that is served on the crisp airy baguette. The basics of the bánh mì tend to include pâté spread on to the bread on one side, mayonnaise on the other, some kind of meat or protein, and a variety of veggies- often cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrots and diakon radish and here in the US jalapeños as well as a splash of Maggi seasoning.  The sandwich may sound a bit odd if you haven’t encountered it before, but trust me this is one of the most amazing combinations of flavors and textures that is not quite like anything else.  If your in downtown Columbus you can get a pretty decent one in the North Market or if you head up to Mi Li you can get a really great one.

For whatever reason I haven’t ever really tried making my own, without really planning it out I suddenly found myself with the ingredients to make my own version.  It all started when I was cleaning out a chicken to roast for dinner and wanted to do something with the liver.  Having just made a fresh baguette that was still cooling on the stove (it was Presidents Day so I had the day off and had time to bake baguettes and roast chickens and make a bánh mì.  So back to the liver, I quickly whipped up a simple pâté using the liver in a mini food processor with some bread crumbs, milk, salt, pepper and a little duck fat.  I baked the tiny pâté in a ramekin in the toaster oven in a water bath for 30 minutes and then chilled it.

Meanwhile I made some pickled carrots by slicing match sticks of carrots and putting them in a vinegar, sugar and salt mixture to quickly pickle.  My bánh mì didn’t feature a main protein (and really it doesn’t need one I learned) and if the pâté was replaced with a mushroom pâté it would be a great vegetarian sandwich.

So once everything was ready, carrots having sat in the fridge for an hour I was ready to make the sandwich.  On one side of my freshly toasted baguette I spread the pâté, layered on cucumbers, a layer of pickled carrots, some pickled hot peppers from our garden, and a bunch of cilantro.  The other side got some Kewpie mayonnaise, I didn’t have Maggi seasoning so I put a few drops of soy sauce on top of the contents and combined the two haves together.  This improvised version of bánh mì  turned out pretty awesome and was pretty simple to pull off.

bánh mì

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