Outrageously Good Homemade Bánh Mì Sandwiches

wEnDy/flickr creative commons

wEnDy/flickr creative commons

Picture the grinder, a sub, or the Cubano… they’re sandwiches combining meat and vegetables with sauces. But there’s one sandwich that is the rage coast-to-coast, the bánh mì, (pronounced bonn-me) which combines thinly sliced pickled and fresh vegetables with sauce and your favorite protein, served on a soft baguette. These are crazy good, especially the recipes from The Banh Mi Handbook by Andrea Nguyen.

We used crispy pork belly for our sandwich, and piled on pickled carrots, shallots, and daikon, though you could use radishes instead of daikon if you’d like. The vegetables “flash-pickle” in just one hour, and the sauces couldn’t be easier. You can have these gluten-free, or vegetarian, if that’s your wheelhouse. Andrea’s recipes showcase all versions, from the classic French-Vietnamese bánh mì using a slice of pâté, to innovative combinations.

One of the reasons you can taste the explosive flavor combination in these sandwiches is that once you cut your soft Italian loaf bread (ideal), you pull out most of the bread dough on both sides, leaving two soft shells. The shells are then stuffed with all the goodies. We especially like the pork roast bánh mì, though Chris Prosperi agreed to Faith’s request for thin slices of crispy pork belly with a hoisin sauce and sliced jalapeños along with the pickled vegetables.

Connecticut has báhn mì chain restaurants, and some chefs are making delicious ones. Now you can make the real thing at home thanks to Vietnamese-American Andrea Nguyen.

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    Daikon and Carrot Pickle for Bánh Mì
  • Recipe with permission from The Banh MI Handbook by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

Ingredients

  • 1 daikon medium, about 1 pound
  • 1 carrot large, about 6 ounces
  • 1 teaspoon salt fine sea salt preferred
  • 0.5 cup sugar plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1.25 cup vinegar distilled white
  • 1 cup water lukewarm
Servings:

Instructions

  1. Peel and cut the daikon into sticks about 3 inches long and 0.25 inches thick, the width of an average chopstick. Peel and cut the carrot to match the size of the daikon sticks but slightly skinnier. Put the vegetables in a bowl. Toss with the salt and 2 teaspoons of the sugar. Massage and knead the vegetables for 3 minutes, or until you can bend a piece of daikon and the tips touch without breaking. They will have lost about a quarter of their original volume.
  2. Flush with running water, then drain in a mesh strainer or colander. Press or shake to expel excess water. Transfer to a 4-cup (1 liter) jar.
  3. For the brine, stir together the remaining 0.5 cups sugar with the vinegar and water until dissolved. Pour into the jar to cover well. Discard any excess brine. Use after 1 hour or refrigerate for up to a month.
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    Citrusy Red Cabbage Pickle for Bánh Mì
  • Recipe with permission from The Banh MI Handbook by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

Ingredients

  • 3.5 cups red cabbage packed, shredded
  • 1.25 teaspoons salt fine sea salt preferred
  • 0.25 cup brown sugar firmly packed, light or dark brown
  • 0.67 cup water
  • 0.75 cup vinegar distilled white
  • 2 strips lemon or lime peel, each about the width and length of your smallest finger
Servings:

Instructions

  1. Put the cabbage into a 4-cup (1 liter) jar, packing it in as needed. In a saucepan, bring the salt, sugar, water, and vinegar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the solids. Remove from the heat, wait for the bubbling to subside, then pour into the jar. Tuck in the citrus peel. As the cabbage softens, use a spoon to push it down to immerse it all in brine.
  2. Leave at room temperature, uncovered, to wilt the cabbage and cool. It's ready to use once cooled, but will develop more of a citrus edge if capped and refrigerated overnight. Store in the fridge for up to 2 months.
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    Mock Maggi Sauce for Bánh Mì
  • Recipe with permission from The Banh Mi Handbook by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

Ingredients

Servings:

Instructions

  1. In a butter warmer or similarly small saucepan, bring the liquid aminos and sugar to a boil. When the surface is covered with bubbly action, remove from the heat. Let cool and concentrate for 20 to 25 minutes before using.
  2. Store in a small bottle or jar. Keep in the cupboard for about 2 weeks or refrigerate for longer.
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    Garlic Yogurt Sauce for Bánh Mì
  • Recipe with permission from The Banh Mi Handbook by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic minced and mashed or put through a press
  • 0.25 teaspoon sugar
  • 0.25 teaspoon salt
  • 0.33 cup mayonnaise homemade or store bought
  • 0.67 cup yogurt low-fat Greek
Servings:

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, stir together all the ingredients to combine well. Cover and set aside at room temperature for an hour to develop flavor, or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Taste and adjust the flavor with salt or sugar before using. Enjoy slightly chilled or at room temperature.
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    Spicy Hoisin Sauce for Bánh Mì
  • Recipe with permission from The Banh Mi Handbook by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

Ingredients

Servings:

Instructions

  1. Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and, if needed, fine-tune with additional vinegar to offset the sweetness of the chile sauce. Aim for a tangy-sweet-salty flavor. Refrigerate for up to a month.

Recipe notes

Instead of Maggi or soy sauce, spoon this onto the bread after laying down the mayo. You can also offer the sauce on the side for guests to add to their sandwiches as they eat.

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    Eggless Mayonnaise for Bánh Mì
  • Recipe with permission from The Banh Mi Handbook by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

Ingredients

Servings:

Instructions

  1. Cut the tofu into 3/4-inch (2-centimeter) chunks and set on a super thick layer of paper towels (I fold an extra large one to make 6 layers). To drain, set aside for 5 minutes if using water packed silken tofu, or 10 minutes if using custardy tofu. You should net around 7 1/4 ounces (220 grams).
  2. Blot excess moisture from the tofu, then transfer to the bowl of a food processor or the jar of a blender. Add the salt, garlic, mustard, and lemon juice (or vinegar). Whisk together the xanthan gum and oil, then add to the processor; you don’t have to stream it in like regular mayo. Run the machine for about 30 seconds, or until a thick, creamy mixture forms. You should be able to plop it from a knife. If it’s runny, blend in 1 or 2 extra pinches of xanthan gum. The mayonnaise firms up and the flavor intensifies during resting. Adjust the flavor as needed with salt, mustard, lemon juice, or vinegar. Transfer to a jar then let sit for an hour before using; refrigerate for up to a week. If it separates slightly, stir it up.

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