Banh mi is not a new dish of Vietnam, but in recent years it really creates such strong impression in the cuisine world. It is hard to believe that the most amazing sandwiches of the world are not in the US or Europe, but in a Southeast Asian country.
Banh mi (bánh mì) has long become a familiar dish on the streets of Vietnam. Lonely Planet even put it on its list of “The World’s Best Street Food”. It all started when the French brought their baguette to Vietnam in the early years of the 19th century.
Gradually, Vietnam has turned the simple baguette with pate and butter of France into a sophisticated, unique, very Vietnamese dish.
Banh mi is a product of cultural and culinary exchange between Europe and Asia. The only common ingredient of every banh mi is baguette from Europe. It is also an important ingredient to make a delicious banh mi. Baguette should be grilled moderately, so that the outer crust is crispy while the inside is warm and soft.
And inside each baguette is a both European and Asian culinary world with numerous unique kinds of food. The chef can put anything inside banh mi. There are three main groups of foods stuffed inside. The first one is vegetables, often cucumber, pickled carrot and green papaya, coriander, cilantro, onion…
The second is optional meat. It could be sliced pork, minced pork, meatballs, pork liver pate, grilled pork or beef, chicken, sausages, eggs, Vietnamese pork sausages (giò chả)… There’s even banh mi for vegetarians, made from tofu and mushroom.
Finally, there are spices and sauce, maybe meat sauce, chili sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup, soy sauce, cheese, butter, pepper…
Banh mi is a typical product of street cuisine. You would have many troubles finding this dish in any luxurious restaurant. It only appears from small eateries, street side stalls or vendors… Choose whatever kind of meat, vegetable or sauce you like, then a perfect sandwich will be yours. You can also choose to take away, or to enjoy the meal there with a cup of iced green tea on a small plastic stool.
Now, you can find this delicious dish on almost any street of Vietnam or even many where in the world. Banh mi can be eaten any time, but Vietnamese people prefer having it for breakfast. Fast, convenient, cheap, yummy. Who can say no to this sweet little thing?