The Bánh Mì Sandwich is a Vietnamese-French influenced dish that introduces Vietnamese culture and cuisine to the world. In 2022, just as “pho” did back in 2014, the term “Banh Mi” earned its official spot in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
In this blog post, I will guide you on where you can enjoy Bánh Mì in Vietnam and how to prepare an authentic Bánh Mì Sandwich at home, just like a Vietnamese.
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🙋♀️ What is Banh Mi?
“Bánh Mì” literally means bread in Vietnamese, much like “Naan” in Persian.
While “Banh Mi Bread” or “Banh Mi Sandwich” may seem somewhat redundant, in the West, they refer specifically to the Vietnamese-style baguette filled with various ingredients.
Bánh Mì has its roots in the late 1800s during the French colonial period in Vietnam. The French brought the baguette to Vietnam, and the Vietnamese started stuffing it with locally adapted ingredients, giving rise to the Bánh Mì we love today.
Vietnamese dishes with French influence you should try:
🌟 The locally loved Banh Mi in Vietnam
I mean, any Vietnamese would likely have their favorite Bánh Mì food stall conveniently nearby their home or workplace.
Now, Banh Mi and Coffee (the best Vietnamese coffee brands you should buy during your trip in Vietnam) have become a cultural phenomenon in Vietnam, especially among young people, as they symbolize the fast-paced lifestyle.
Let me introduce you to some Bánh Mì options you should try when planning a trip to Vietnam:
Bánh Mì Thịt Nguội or Bánh Mì Thập Cẩm is the most popular type of Bánh Mì, typically filled with Vietnamese-styled cold cuts like Liver Pâté, Ham (Chả Lụa), Red Pork Belly (Thịt Đỏ), or Head Cheese (Chả Thủ).
Bánh Mì Heo Quay features crispy pork belly (my personal favorite).
Bánh Mì Xíu Mại: Banh mi with Vietnamese meatballs, a specialty from Da Lat.
Bánh Mì Thịt Nướng or Nem Nướng is filled with pork skewers or Vietnamese sausage skewers.
Bánh Mì Thịt Xíu highlights 5-spice pork, a specialty from Hoi An.
Bánh Mì Chả Cá includes fried fish cake, a specialty from Nha Trang (my hometown)
Bánh Mì Chảo: a Vietnamese-styled full breakfast in which banh mi served with a hot pan of various ingredients such as eggs, sausages, Vietnamese pâté and Vietnamese meat balls. There is a similar dish call Bò Né (Vietnamese steak & eggs).
Bánh Mì Chay: a Bánh Mì filled with vegan ingredients such as tofu, seitan, or mushrooms.
We also enjoy Bánh Mì in other simple ways like:
- Dipping it in sweetened condensed milk: the combination of warm and crispy Bánh Mì with condensed milk may sound weird, but it’s an amazing combo.
- Filling it with sunny side up eggs and nước chấm (dipping fish sauce), a classic choice that never gets old.
- Pairing it with egg coffee.
Where to eat:
- Bánh Mì Huỳnh Hoa
- Bánh Mì Như Lan
- Bánh Mì Bảy Hổ (a 90-year-old Bánh Mì stall featured on Netflix and beloved by locals).
- Bánh Mì 25
- Bánh Mì Chảo Cột Điện Quán (71 Đặng Văn Ngữ str, Đống Đa district, Hanoi)
📝 Prepare Banh Mi at home
Of course, you don’t need to travel to Vietnam right now to grab a Banh Mi. Even if there are no Banh Mi stalls nearby, you can still make your own Bánh Mì at home with just a few of my tips.
Bread for Banh Mi
The Vietnamese-style baguette stands out with its ultra-thin and crispy crust. It’s also quite airy with less crumb, providing more room for the filling.
The Vietnamese bread may not be the best to enjoy on its own because it’s rather bland and lacks the deep, rich flavors found in artisan or sourdough bread. (Well, artisan bread in Germany is just so good!!)
Avoid any bread with a dense crumb. It’s ideal if you can either make your own Bánh Mì baguette or purchase one from a Vietnamese bakery. Alternatively, any very crusty baguette, such as a French baguette, will also work fine.
What is inside Banh Mi
Inside a Banh Mi, there are typically several ingredients, including:
Vietnamese Pâté: Vietnamese liver pâté typically made from pork or chicken livers. You can use my recipe or your preferred liver paté.
Vietnamese Mayo: This mayo is thicker than regular mayo. You can use my recipe or your everyday mayo.
Pickled carrot & daikon (Don’t skip this!): Đồ Chua is thinly sliced carrots and daikon radish pickled in a brine of vinegar, water, and sugar. They add a fresh flavor and crunchy texture to your Banh Mi.
Sliced cucumber, green onion, cilantro and chili: These ingredients provide freshness and a spicy kick to your Banh Mi.
Maggi seasoning sauce: small drizzle of Maggi soy sauce can enhance the flavor of your Banh Mi. Alternatively, you can use your regular soy sauce.
Protein choices are versatile. You can fill your Banh Mi with various options, whether store-bought or homemade.
- Sunny-side-up eggs & nước chấm: Simple yet incredibly tasty. This was my favorite breakfast at the high school’s canteen.
- Chả Lụa (Vietnamese Ham): You can easily find this at Asian supermarkets.
- Gà Nướng Xả (Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Chicken)
Substitutes and Fusions:
- Regular sausages and ham from your local super markets.
- Chicken Teriyaki
- Gochujang Chicken
- Gà roti (Vietnamese Rotisserie Chicken)
Assemble the Bánh Mì
Bánh Mì might initially appear challenging to prepare at home due to its numerous ingredients. However, if you have all the necessary ingredients ready (many of which are store-bought), you can actually whip it up in just 10 minutes.
- Heat the baguette bread.
- Split the roll down the top middle, but leave the back part uncut.
- Layer in the protein, cucumber strips, đồ chua, green onion, and finally, cilantro.
- Finish by adding a few slices of chili and a drizzle of Maggi Seasoning (or Soy Sauce).
🍞 How to enjoy Banh Mi Sandwich
Banh Mi sandwich is an affordable, delectable, and convenient street food that almost Vietnamese love. Vietnamese people can enjoy Banh Mi all seven days of the week because we have a wide variety of filling choices for Banh Mi
Try other Vietnamese street food:
You can even have Banh Mi for any meals of the day, but it’s particularly well-suited for a quick breakfast (even though people still love having Phở or Cơm Tấm for breakfast). A combination of Banh Mi and Vietnamese coffee (cà phê sữa đá) is a must for breakfast when you travel to Vietnam.
Banh Mi is also an excellent choice for a picnic or camping trip. You can either assemble Banh Mi at home or bring all the ingredients and put it together at your campsite.
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Vietnamese Bánh Mì Sandwich Recipe (From A To Z)
- 4 Vietnamese-styled baguettes (or any crusty bread rolls)
- ½ cup Vietnamese Liver Pâté (120ml) (or your prefered pâté)
- ¼ cup Vietnamese Mayo (60ml) (or your prefered mayo)
- Đồ Chua (Pickled carrot and daikon) (to your taste)
- Green Onions (thinly sliced)
- Cucumber (thinly sliced)
- Chili (thinly sliced)
- Maggi Seasoning Sauce or Soy Sauce (to your taste)
Protein Choices (according to your preferences, should total 1 lb / 500g)
- Vietnamese Ham (Chả Lụa)
- Grilled Lemongrass Chicken
- Roasted Pork Belly