A Vietnamese banh mi is Hugh's favorite sandwich. It doesn't really matter how authentic it is, just that it is good. The bread should be tender but a little toasty on the outsides. The vegetables crunchy and pickled and lots of fresh herbs. His would include crispy bits of pork and I'll take a tofu version. Pro tip from yours truly with a vegetarian food blog, the pre-cooked carnitas from Trader Joes or Costco can be warmed and shredded and sandwiched right in here with no complaints from your omnivorous eaters. I tried out and simplified the recipe in the Tartine Bread cookbook as edited below. We've let our sourdough making habit die for the time being but I am still intrigued by the recipes in the back of this book. Most of them are naturally leavened bread recipes and techniques but the whole Tartine crew knows what they are doing with flavor so I tweak things to work with store-bought bread. Their recipe for a banh mi is written with pork inside but I really believe these could take on any basic protein. Think pan fried tofu or tempeh or a fish filet or a thin cut chicken breast. I know a sandwich is often thought of as a lunch thing but we don't discriminate over here. I believe frittatas qualify for any of the three meals of the day and sometimes I eat leftover salad with an egg on top for breakfast so all is permissible. And truly, such good things can be made smushed between fresh bread.
VEGETABLE BANH MI // Makes 2-4 depending on size
Recipe adapted from Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson
The garlicky fish sauce here adds great salty flavor but is not completely necessary if fish sauce is not your thing. Add another garlic clove and a pinch of pepper flakes to the green aioli to bump up the flavor there a bit. As noted above, the sandwich can take on any protein.
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup water
3 Tbsp. natural cane sugar
2 tsp. sea salt
1 bunch carrots, julienne peeled
1/2 a red onion, shaved thin
1 garlic clove
juice of one lime
1 small jalapeno, seeded and stemmed
1 small bunch basil
1 small bunch cilantro, some saved for garnish
1 cup good quality mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. vietnamese fish sauce
1 Tbsp. chili oil (or olive oil and a dash of pepper flakes)
pulpy juice of half a lime
1 baguette, cut and lightly toasted
In a large mixing bowl, combine the red wine vinegar, water, sugar and salt and stir to combine. Add the carrots and onions and toss them around in the pickling juice. Set aside for at least 30 minutes. These can be stored, covered, in the fridge for a week.
For the green aioli, blend all ingredients in a food processor until mostly smooth. Set aside or store covered in the fridge until needed.
In a mortar and pestle or food processor, mash together the garlic, fish sauce, chili oil and lime. It will be thin and that's ok, it's just intended to drizzle.
Mash the avocados. To assemble the sandwiches, lightly toast your baguette. Smash avocado on one face and generously spread aioli on the other side. Top with a heap of pickled vegetables, a bit more cilantro and a drizzle of the garlicky sauce.