There is one sandwich in the Vietnamese recipes and it is a tour de force. Garlicky meats, marinated daikon and carrot, chiles, cucumber, and cilantro tucked into a baguette moistened with mayonnaise and Maggi Seasoning sauce, Traditional Vietnamese Baguette (Bánh Mì) merges European and Asian food traditions. Each mouthful reflects how Vietnamese cooks co-opted French ideas to create new foods.
All Traditional Vietnamese Sandwich use the same basic framework of ingredients, though a minority of makers use margarine or butter instead of mayonnaise. At Vietnamese delis, you make the call on the main protein element. The đặc biệt (special) is basically “the works,” a smear of liver pâté and slices of various cold cuts that show off the art of Vietnamese charcuterie . Follow the custom of Viet deli owners and use your imagination to fill the sandwich. Just make sure it is boldly flavored. Pieces of grilled lemongrass beef , oven-roasted chicken , five-spice pork steaks , or char siu pork (pictured above) are excellent. Seared or grilled firm tofu or leftover roasted lamb or beef will work, too.
The bread doesn’t have to be one of the airy Vietnamese baguettes made with wheat and rice flours. (In the past, the best baguettes in Vietnam were made from wheat flour only and displayed an amazing crumb and crust.) You can use a regular baguette (though neither sourdough nor too crusty) or a Mexican bolillo (torpedo-shaped roll).
Traditional Vietnamese Baguette (Bánh Mì) is adapted from the book "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" by Andrea Nguyen. Copyright © 2006 by Andrea Nguyen.