Bánh mì — literally Vietnamese bread — is the common name for the delicious sandwich that originated in Saigon during the 1950s. Over the years, this melding of French and Southeast Asian cuisine has become wildly popular across the world.
I remember the very first time we tried banh mi. It was in Laos, as we were making the two-day boat journey from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang. The boat stopped for the night in a small village along the Mekong, and for breakfast, we grabbed a couple curious looking sandwiches from a street vendor.
At first I assumed it was just “western food” prepared for the tourists. We had yet to learn the cultural impact decades of French occupation left on the region.
It was like nothing I’d ever tasted before. The texture of the bread, the heat from the chilis, the way the sweet, anise-flavoured pickles cut through rich pate. It was everything that makes Southeast Asian so wonderful — with a little French twist.
Bánh mì are the perfect sandwiches for summer, and can make an awesome twist to your next BBQ!
Recipe: Bánh Mì
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 4 med carrots juilenne
- 1/2 large daikon juilenne
- 1/2 large white onion juilenne
- 8 Chicken Thighs boneless, skinless
- 1 whole lemongrass bruised, and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/4 cup brown or palm sugar
- 1 lime zested and juiced
- 4 tbsp mayo
- 2 tsp Sriracha
- 2 tsp sweet soy (or hoisin)
- 1 bunch cilantro washed and picked
- 1 french baguette *see notes cut into 4, and sliced
- 1 cucumber sliced thin
- Bruise (smash) and cut up lemongrass, mix together with garlic, brown (or palm) sugar and lime juice. Pour over chicken thighs, making sure to cover all parts, rubbing in the garlic and lemongrass. Cover with fish Sauce and marinate for 3 hours to overnight.
- Turn grill on high, and let heat up.
- Cut up carrots and daikon and put into a large bowl. Heat rice vinegar and water in a small saucepan until first sign of boiling. Turn off and add sugar, stir to dissolve. While still hot pour over the carrots and daikon. Set aside to cool.
- Add 2 Tbsp Mayo in two separate bowls. Add Sriracha to one of the mayo bowls, and sweet soy to the other one. Mix well and set aside.
- Pull chicken out of marinade and dab off with paper towel. Grill Chicken thighs until fully cooked through. 160F Set aside and let carry over to 170F (it will cook an extra 10Degrees by sitting off the heat.
- Spread one side of bun with Siracha mayo and the other side with the sweet soy mayo. Slice the chicken thigh and add to cover one side of the bun. Take carrots and daikon out of pickling juice and dab on paper towel. Add to sandwich spreading out evenly. Top with slices of cucumber and add as much cilantro as you prefer.
- Serve immediately.