Not all sandwiches were created equal. When I tried my first Bánh Mì from a little hole-in-the-wall vendor, Phuong, at Hunter Connection, I was instantly hooked. Every week for about a year I kept going back just before the official lunch hour rush to beat the crowds and get my $4.50 made-to-order Bánh Mì fix. Oh what joy!
So what’s the big deal, you might be thinking, doesn’t Subway do that already – you pick your fillings, toppings and sauce and they stuff them into a footlong?
Well, yes, they do but their rolls are not as deliciously light and crusty, they don’t spread pâté on the roll, and their fillings do not include fresh and actually flavourful meat selections, such as my favourite pork cold cuts, sweet grilled pork meat balls or succulent barbecue chicken. They don’t drizzle the lot with soy sauce and sprinkle over with chilli. No, they don’t – it’s an entirely different roll game. The other thing that makes the Bánh Mì so special are fresh sprigs of coriander (cilantro) that are artfully placed in amongst the salad topping.
Eventhough I stopped working in the city a while back, when we lived closer, I would wander in at least once a week to check the mailbox located above the said food court and get myself a bbq chicken or pork roll with extra coriander and chilli and read through the week’s mail, life’s simple pleasures. I still like to have my “fix” at least once a week, but now that we live futrher away, I make my own Bánh Mì at home. It’s super easy and super tasty as well.
When making the rolls at home, stick with the salad toppings suggested, but try to experiment with your meat selection: I like a western version of ham and spicy salami, as well as the more traditional barbecue chicken or even leftover roast meat, such as the thinly sliced crispy roast pork belly I had left over the other day. In terms of the bread, I’m all for homemade, but they are much cheaper to buy. Aim for the shorter, 6 inch rolls.
You can buy Vietnamese bread rolls from most Asian-run bakeries and even supermarkets. Chilli is optional, but I like heat and sometimes I use Worcestershire sauce instead of soy for extra kick. Easy meat options could include cold cuts, barbecue chicken and shredded roast leftovers.
For the Bánh Mì basics:
- 1 Viet 6in bread roll
- 1 tbsp chicken pâté
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 4 slices of cucumber
- 2 slices of tomato
- 1/8 cup grated carrot
- 1 tbsp sliced red onion
- 1 sprig of spring onion
- 2 sprigs fresh coriander
For the meaty Bánh Mì stuffing (choose, or mix and match):
- 3 slices salami + 3 slices smoked ham
- 1/4 cup shredded barbecue chicken // or leftover roast
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- (1 tsp chopped red long chilli)
To make a Bánh Mì sub sandwich: cut the bread roll in half longways, but leave the halves joined at the long edge. Spread pâté on one half, mayo on the other. Arrange slices of cucumber and tomato, layer with your choice of meat, add spring onion, carrot and onion. Top with coriander.
To serve: sprinkle with chilli, drizzle with soy sauce and serve.