Banh Mi: A sandwich from the South East Asia (Vietnam)

Banh Mi: The history and a recipe that I trust

If you have ever embarked on a trip to Vietnam, a S-shaped country, you probably know about ‘banh mi’ – a different style of sandwiches that you do not see often in Western countries, unless you live in Asian neighborhood.

Sandwich maker recipes: Really good tips

History

Banh Mi is a Vietnamese term for all kinds of bread. The word is derived from bánh (bread) and (wheat, also spelled mỳ in northern Vietnam). Bread, or more specifically the baguette, was introduced by the French during its colonial period. The bread most commonly found in Vietnam is a single-serving baguette, which is usually more airy than its Western counterpart, with a thinner crust.

The term bánh mì is also sometimes used as a synecdoche for a “Vietnamese sandwich”.

banh mi

This is a slightly Western-like version of Banh Mi. In Vietnam, people don’t eat banh mi with side salad and French fries. They even don’t use knife and fork. If you want to do it in Vietnamese style, just simply hold the sandwiches in your bare hands and bite.

In the Western Hemisphere, especially in areas with substantial Vietnamese expatriatecommunities, the term is used to refer to a type of meat-filled sandwich on bánh mì bread, found in Vietnamese bakeries. Unlike the traditional French baguette, the Vietnamese baguette is made with rice flour along with wheat flour.

Typical fillings include steamed, pan-roasted or oven-roasted seasoned pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, grilled pork, grilled pork patties, spreadable pork liver pâté, pork floss, grilled chicken, chicken floss, canned sardines in tomato sauce, soft pork meatballs in tomato sauce, head cheese, fried eggs, mock duck, and tofu.

Accompanying vegetables typically include fresh cucumber slices, cilantro (leaves of the coriander plant) and pickled carrots and daikon in shredded form. Common condiments include spicy chili sauce, sliced chilis, mayonnaise, and cheese.

In the Vietnamese language, these sandwiches would be referred to as e.g. bánh mì xíu mại for a baguette with crushed pork meatball, bánh mì pâté chả thịt for a baguette or sandwich with pâté, Vietnamese sausage and meat, usually pork bellies, since it is the most common kind of meat. Almost all of these varieties are innovations made by or introduced in Saigon and they are known as bánh mì Sài Gòn (“Saigon-Style” banh mi); the most popular form is bánh mì thịt (thịt means “meat”). However, even in Vietnam, “a bánh mì for breakfast” implies a meat-filled sandwich for breakfast, not just bread.

banh mi

Recipe

I recommend you check out the recipe to making Banh Mi from Allrecipe. It is authentic and easy to follow preparation steps.

And I personally endorse the Banh Mi Handbook written by Andrea Nguyen.

(Tip: Look for the ‘Nguyen’ whenever you want to find anything Vietnam-related. You won’t be disappointed!)


Let me know about your newly-made banh mi. Do you like it?

Share this article to your friends and family so that they could also try out this unique type of sandwiches.


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