The Banh Mi sandwich was established in the latter part of the 18th century when Vietnam fell under French rule. It combines two of my favorite components: quality French bread and flavorful South East Asian flavors.
Traditionally, a crispy French baguette is filled with a myriad of Vietnamese flavors such as pickled vegetables, fresh cilantro, fresh chiles and freshly prepared proteins such as chicken, pork belly, beef or tofu.
The Banh Mi has quickly become one of my favorite sandwich offerings: so simple, yet complex. In the last 5 years or so, it has started becoming more accessible, and many establishments around Boston have taken creative license with this sandwich.
Bon Me, an outfit with 3 food trucks, a brick and mortar location in the bustling Kendall Square, does a fabulous job doing just that. They don’t claim to be the by-the-book Banh Mi, indicating that by the name. They fill a good baguette with a smear of pate, pickled vegetable and your choice of rotating offerings of protein: usually miso chicken, barbeque pork, roasted tofu etc. They manage to churn them out quickly and efficiently like any good food truck operation should. I’ve never experienced anything less than excellent service.
The recipe I’ve chosen to highlight isn’t exactly a recipe. It’s merely a guideline. The phrase Banh Mi is Vietnamese for “bread”. It has become synonymous with a offering boasting a freshly baked baguette filled with Vietnamese ingredients- so that’s what you should do here. Start with a beautiful French baguette, such as my favorite the Au Pain Dore Baguette Dore. To make it worthy of Banh Mi status, pickle some of your favorite vegetables, marinate your chicken, pork of tofu in your favorite Asian marinade ( my favorite is a blend of coconut milk, lemongrass, garlic, sriracha, peanut oil and cilantro).
I like to write my recipes as if I were hosting a cocktail party, and this one is no different. A couple of gently toasted baguettes filled with thoughtfully prepared ingredients and sliced into manageable sections for your cocktail sipping friends are sure to be a huge hit. I love a nice hoppy IPA with a great Banh Mi, but that’s just me. Customize this sandwich and make it your own.