Banh Mi is a Vietnamese style sandwich that became popular in the United States of America after the fall of Saigon. Banh Mi is particularly popular in regions of the United States where there is a high population of Vietnamese Americans such as New Orleans, Los Angeles, Virginia, and South East Texas.
Banh Mi is famously known for its use of different meats marinated with spicy chilies and accompanied with fresh and/or pickled vegetables. Bahn Mi, once considered a luxury is a common sandwich, affordable and enjoyed by many.
Banh Mi restaurants are opening at rapid rates and have been most popular along the east coast where the Vietnamese immigrant population is high.
Now that Banh Mi can be found just as easily as a B.L.T., are you able to tell if your Banh Mi is authentic?
What Makes an Authentic Banh Mi?
Many would agree the Vietnamese Baguette, made with wheat and rice flour, is the equivalent to the French Baguette. Over the years Bahn Mi has evolved. With so many cultures adopting the sandwich, various versions have come to market. While enjoyable in many different ways, the main factor in determining whether you’ve come across an authentic Banh Mi sandwich can be found in the fillings.
An authentic Banh Mi contains Pork Liver Pate, meat of your choice (most popular served with two or more meats), pickled Daikon and Carrots (shredded), fresh cucumber slices, chopped Cilantro leaves, an array of spicy chili condiments, cheese, and mayonnaise.
Vietnamese food is known as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. The Vietnamese culture has maintained this reputation and their culture has always strayed away from processed foods. Traditional Banh Mi does not contain any preservatives or processed foods.
Condiments such as the Spicy Chili sauce, Mayonnaise, Fish Sauce etc., can be considered savory and are important components to an authentic Banh Mi. If you’re concerned about your carbohydrate intake, simply place a reasonable amount onto your Banh Mi.
James A. Garfield said it best: “Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.”
Sandwich to street food that teases your taste buds
Banh Mi’s history dates back to the 16th century when Christianity was introduced to Vietnam. Prior to the French defeat at Dien Bien in 1954, Vietnamese would pair Baguettes with cold cuts, butter and cheese, just as the French did.
Upon departure of the French, the Vietnamese replaced imported cold cuts with local marinated meats, locally grown fresh and pickled vegetables, paired with spicy local condiments. Now that all ingredients were grown and marinated locally, Banh Mi became affordable, portable and available via food carts and restaurants throughout the Republic of Vietnam.
Are you ready to bring the streets of Vietnam into your kitchen?
Now that Banh Mi is tantalizing your taste buds and you’re now a connoisseur of all things Banh Mi, are you ready to make them at home, for your family and friends to enjoy?
Making a Banh Mi thit Nuong (Grilled Pork Banh Mi)
Items you will need:
- 1 silicone basting brush
- 15 – 12 inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 2 hours prior to grilling
- 1 Grill
- 1 – 6.2 lb of Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes (any brand of charcoal briquettes will suffice)
- When ready to grill the pork, please follow grilling instructions on the back of the Charcoal Briquette bag
Banh Mi Pork Marinade Ingredients:
- Plastic wrap
- ½ cup Viet Huong Fish sauce (if you can not find this brand, any Asian Fish Sauce will suffice)
- 1 ½ tablespoon of honey, raw and unfiltered
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 5 medium sized scallions, cut in half, white parts only
- 8 garlic cloves
- 2 pounds of thinly sliced pork tenderloin
- ¼ cup Koon Chun Hoisin Sauce (if you can not find this brand, any brand of Hoisin Sauce will suffice)
- ½ cup Hang Xanh unrefined peanut oil (if you can not find this brand, any brand of vegetable oil will suffice)
Pork Marinade Directions:
- In a blender, puree the fish sauce with honey, hoisin sauce, white sugar, black pepper, scallions and garlic cloves
- Pour the blended mixture into a large bowl
- Add sliced pork and toss, ensuring each slice of pork is marinated
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator
- Refrigerate the marinated pork for 7 hours minimum, 24 hours maximum
- Once marinated, take the marinated pork out the fridge and grab the bamboo skewers that are soaking in water
- Thread marinated pork through the top and bottom of each slice
- Do not over crowd your skewers
- Place skewers onto a 12 inch plate and get ready to grill
Pickled Vegetable Ingredients for Banh Mi:
- 1 gallon resealable bag
- ¼ cup of julienned seedless, skinless cucumber
- ¼ cup julienned carrots, rinsed and peeled
- ¼ cup julienned daikon, rinsed and peeled
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ½ tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 cup filtered water
- ½ cup Kikkoman rice wine vinegar (if you can not find this brand, any brand of Rice Wine vinegar will suffice)
Pickled Vegetable Directions:
- In a large bowl, add the julienned vegetables, salt and sugar
- Using your hands, mix the vegetable, sugar and salt mixture. Make sure each vegetable is coated with the sugar and salt mixture
- Add the filtered water and Rice Wine Vinegar into the bowl and mix well ensuring each vegetable is coated
- Place contents from the bowl into the resealable bag and seal.
- Place the resealable bag into the refrigerator.
- Pickled vegetables can be used immediately
- Pickled vegetables are good up to 7 days after the preparation date
Banh Mi Condiments:
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 8 – 8 inch baguettes, cut ¾ of the way, lengthwise
- 1 – 28 ounce bottle of Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
- 1 can Henaff Pork Pate (if you can not find this brand, any brand of Pork Liver Pate will suffice)
Directions for grilling Banh Mi
- Once the grill is hot and ready, use the silicone basting brush to oil the grills grate.
- Lightly oil the skewered meat
- Place skewered meat onto the hot crate
- Let each skewer cook on each side for two minutes, flipping once
- Do not cook skewered meat for more than two minutes
- While the meat is grilling, spread 1 tablespoon or Pork Liver Pate on one side of the baguette, 1 tablespoon of Hoisin sauce on the other side of the baguette
- Place 2 skewers of cooked meat into each baguette
- Hold the baguette firmly to pull out each skewer
- Add the pickled vegetables and cilantro leaves on top of the meat
- Drizzle 2 tablespoons of Sriracha sauce on top of the pickled vegetables prior to serving
- Make sure skewers are taken out before serving
Now that you have mastered making Banh Mi thit Nuong, here are a few tips to kick it up a few notches next time:
- Grill the baguette prior to building a Banh Mi
- Make the Pork Liver Pate from scratch
Banh Mi – Who’s hungry?
Banh Mi is deeply rooted in the Vietnamese culture. Even though we are able to purchase Banh Mi at many local restaurants, we want to keep in mind how special this dish is to the Vietnamese culture and how much attention to detail is put into each sandwich which is prepared with love and pride.