Banh mi is literally translated as ‘bread’ and in Vietnam mainly French bread or baguette is made. The bread in Vietnam is sublime, because learned from the French colonizers and French are masters in baking ‘baguettes’. Though copied from the French, Banh mi can not be more Vietnamese.

If you’re at a Banh mi-stall in Vietnam, and you would say ‘yes’ to all the ingredients, then you get a mishmash of pork. It tastes creamy, crispy, fatty, sweet, sour, fresh with a little heat. Coriander and pickled carrot Dua ca rot I find indispensable in a Vietnamese sandwich. Some cucumber for freshness, Thai basil is optional but very tasty and chili or bird’s eye chili for sharpness.

The meat can be, brace yourself: Vietnamese steamed pork sausage Cha lua, ham with a lot of fat or pig’s ear, eggs, grilled pork patties Nem nuong, pork pâté, beef lemongrass Bo nuong xa, minced pork Xiu Mai, Chinese roast pork Xa xiu, fish cakes Cha ca, etc. Really anything, because with Dua ca rot, the fresh herbs and fresh dressing do the rest of the work: binding flavors and textures. Here are some suggestions for meat in a Vietnamese sandwich. Put Banh mi together according to your preferences.

Ingredients

  • fresh crispy French bread or baguette
  • Vietnamese pork sausage Cha lua, in large julienne
  • omelet fried eggs, cut into strips
  • Chinese roast pork Xa xiu
  • Vietnamese minced pork Xiu Mai
  • fricandeau and pork pâté

Garnish

  • coriander, leaves and twigs
  • pickled carrot Dua ca rot
  • cucumber, sliced or julienned
  • chili or bird’s eye chilli, sliced or julienned
  • Thai basil

Dressing (about 4 baguettes)
A mix of Maggi flavor, Sriracha chili sauce and a little sugar is good too or leave an ingredient out to taste. Basic fish dipping sauce Nuoc cham is fine as well. Also, sometimes in French style a thin layer of light mayonnaise is smeared. Customize to your liking. My preference is a light dressing with lots of sharpness and a bright fresh acid.

  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Maggi flavor
  • 2 tbsp sugar, preferably brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek or more to taste

 

Banh mi with Cha lua, pâté and fricandeau

  1. Start with smearing pâté. Lay on the pâté two fricandeau slices and some Cha lua. Pâté and fricandeau can also be omitted. If you want, first bring a thin layer of light mayonnaise to taste (I never use this).
  2. Add some cucumber, Dua ca rot, coriander, Thai basil and fresh chilies. I don’t remove the seeds from the chilis because I like it hot in a Banh mi bite.
  3. Drizzle with the dressing of your choice.

Banh mi with omelet

  1. Beat the eggs with salt, pepper and a little sugar. Fry the omelet with some onions to taste. Let cool a little. Cut the omelet into strips.
  2. Put some cucumber, Dua ca rot, coriander, Thai basil and fresh chillies between the sandwiches.
  3. Fill the Vietnamese sandwiches with another layer of the omelet or combine with other meat.
  4. Drizzle with the dressing of your choice.

Banh mi with Xa xiu

  1. Xa xiu is sweet marinated meat with the basic ingredients five spice powder, sugar, honey, soy sauce and hoisin sauce. The meat is preferably barbecued. For a quick preparation you can use a ready-made marinade. In the Asian groceries you can also find Xa Xiu meat in the refrigerator. Good quality if you warm it in the oven. Buy Xa xiu at eateries, which cost almost nothing. Want to try it yourself, see for the recipe Xa xiu.
  2. Put some cucumber, Dua ca rot, coriander , Thai basil and fresh chillies between the baguette.
  3. Fill the Vietnamese sandwiches with extra Xa xiu or combine with other meat. The dressing Maggi flavor, Sriracha chili sauce and sugar goes very well with Xa xiu.

Banh mi with Xiu mai

  1. Xiu Mai are actually Vietnamese meatballs, but my mother has found a way to avoid forming balls and save time. For Xiu Mai you need minced pork belly. Add in the minced meat some fish sauce, sugar, sambal oelek and chopped onion. I make Xiu Mai preferably a little sweet. Fry the meat in a small casserole without oil, stir carefully and not too much so natural ‘balls’ forms. When the meat begins to fry, add a splash of water and put the lid on the pan. Let the meat simmer until tender.
  2. Put some cucumber, Dua ca rot, coriander, Thai basil and fresh chillies between the sandwiches.
  3. Fill the Vietnamese sandwiches with extra Xiu mai or combine with other meats.
  4. Drizzle with the dressing of your choice.