I love Vietnamese cuisine, I think this has been established in previous posts, but I have yet to talk about the Banh Mi.
A product of French colonialism which was popularized in North America by the Vietnam War, the Banh Mi is one of the most surprisingly delicious sandwiches you will ever eat. Served on a feather light super crusty baguette this sandwich usually is filled with marinated and roasted pork shoulder, super fresh or lightly pickled veggies, a spicy blend of chilli sauce and mayonnaise and a liberal amount of cilantro. It’s simple, it’s light, it’s colourful and it’s powerfully flavourful.
The usual ingredients in a Banh Mi can vary depending on season and preference. Usually if there is meat used it is pork in either roasted or grilled shoulder form, pork offal pate, or pork meatballs. Chicken breast or pate is also common as well as any number of seafood or vegan options. The sandwiches also are generally topped with lettuce, carrots, daikon, cucumber and cilantro which are either in their fresh or pickled forms.
The first time I tried a Banh Mi was in Calgary at a small establishment on the Red Mile. I wasn’t expecting much but my mind was blown by how much flavour they could pack into a sandwich. Between that and my favourite Pho place, which was just down the street, I was in vietnamese cuisine heaven for about five years.
In the past few years there has been a proliferation of Asian cuisine in North America. Vietnamese cuisine has become much more available in most somewhat large city centres and in my reasonably large sample size vietnamese people are some of the most delightful welcoming people I’ve ever met so if you are apprehensive about trying something new in the realm of Asian cuisine, Vietnamese may be the best introduction one can have.
Just a pleasant reminder than I have 30 copies of Braised Blue: Year One that have just arrived. If you are interested in purchasing one from me, please let me know while supplies last. The first order went very fast so please let me know on the Facebook site or in the comments section.