Vitenamese Salad Rolls – Bánh Mì
Banh Mi (bun me) is a popular Vietnamese baguette roll stuffed with all manner of salad – think of it as the more flavourful cousin of the classic that’s salad sandwich. I have long been enjoying Banh Mis as my “fast food” of choice when out running errands and they’ve become my go to lunch for when I’m at home with Mia of late. Sure, I’ve recently needed to go light on the chilli but still, it’s a flavourful treat.
At 3 months now, Mia is such a delightful baby, even more so lately because she’s become more alert and aware of the world around her. She smiles, has almost mastered the task of giggling out loud, she chatters and is very keen to sit up. While she’s been sleeping through the night since she was about 6 weeks old, maybe just after, in the last week she’s decided there’s too much to do and too much to see which has brought on a new phase of wakefulness in the wee hours of the morning.
Apparently it’s quite normal, but as parents we still question whether it’s something we did or are doing… I have a theory it might be her dummy, she can’t yet pick it up on her own so loosing it becomes a wakeful frustration. I’ve tried googling some tips – and came across this awesome resource website which basically suggests that every baby is different so to tailor your approach appropriately – a bit like what I encourage you to do with food. Yup, bioindividuality. There is, of ocurse, also a well-structured suggestion that babies (and us humans in general) are either tension increasers or decreasers, which requires different approaches to sleep training – I think Mia might be the earlier, but sometimes she seems to fit the latter box as well. Gah! It might even be one of those “this, too, will pass” types of scenarios. I must add that I am extremely lucky as Babcia (my Mum) is staying with us and she’s the one who has volunteered to look after Mia during those wakeful times.
Meanwhile, and since I have a little more energy than Babcia, I thought I’d share one of my favourite lunch recipes of late, the Banh Mi. Apart from a burst of flavour in every bite, ticks quite a few boxes for a breastfeeding mum: you get to have a nutritious salad, an instant energy boost from the bread, a little fat that helps with nutrient absorption and some protein in form of the meat.
Many Vietnamese-run bakeries sell these deliciously fresh salad rolls and quite recently Bun Me chains have opened up shop all over Sydney offering salad rolls and other Vietnamese classics like pho and rice paper rolls. But they can be easily made at home, too. Chicken or various pork cold cuts make for a tasty variation for meat eaters. I often add shredded barbecue chicken to mine for extra ooph, especially now that I’m breastfeeding. While butter and pate are used to spread on the bun, you can omit these – or swap them out for homemade mayo.
Also, instead of a white baguette, I opt for a wholemeal variety. Sourdough rolls work well too, but to be honest I quite like the fluffy texture of the roll considering the amount of stuffing inside.
- 2 wholemeal baguette rolls
- 1 small carrot, julienned
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce (use ½ teaspoon salt for a vegetarian version)
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1 baby cos lettuce, shredded
- 1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced finely
- ½ red onion, sliced finely, optional
- 1 sprig spring onion, green parts only
- A few single stalks fresh coriander
- 1 red long chilli, sliced finely
- 1 cup shredded chicken meat, or leftover finely sliced roast pork
- butter for spreading
- chicken liver pate, optional
- 2 teaspoons tamari
- Sriracha sauce, optional
- 2 teapsoons fried shallots
- Cut each roll open lengthways without splitting it in half.
- Place julienned carrot in a small bowl, add fish sauce or salt and lime juice. Allow the mixture to pickle for a few minutes.
- To make Banh Mis layer lettuce, cucumber slices, onion if using, pickled carrot, spring onion and coriander sprigs in each roll. Top with meats, if using.
- Drizzle tamari and sriracha over the top, and sprinkle both rolls with fried shallots.