The first time I had a banh mi sandwich, I walked to the laundromat near my apartment in Berkeley and then went next door to get some cheap food. Well, the cheapest thing on the menu was the vegetarian banh mi, and it was probably $1.95 and I bet that I paid in change. I was surprised, not so much by the flavor, but by the japapeno. And it was a hot jalapeno. Since then, I have sought out banh mi in lots of places: Portland, NYC, and now Boise.
Boise’s own Orient Market used to sell banh mi in store, but now they have branched out and are selling them at their restaurant, “Baguette Deli” which also serves egg rolls, and the delectable avocado smoothie with boba.
NYC’s “best banh mi” was okay, but it was not as good as sitting in a part in Chinatown watching the senior citizen orchestra play traditional instruments.
My favorite banh mi is my own.
My recipe for banh mi is like this:
Gather these ingredients:
- one fresh baguette from Orient Market
- one daikon
- one-two carrots
- tofu, or if you have access to vegan meat, use that, there is excellent vegan meat in the freezer section at Orient Market
- soy sauce
- fish sauce (omit if totally vegan)
- rice vinegar (seasoned is ok, in my book)
- one small onion
I use a food processor to shred the daikon and the carrot. Then I put them in a bowl with 3T soy sauce, 2T fish sauce and 1T rice vinegar. They marinate. I move forward with the rest.
Slice the jalapeno lengthwise – not in rounds – but long. Slice the onion very thinly. Rip the cilantro into smaller bits, and you may chop the stems, as they are also edible, and have much more flavor than the leaves. Slice the tofu or the veggie meat into deli like slices.
Using a bread knife cut a six inch piece of bread from the baguette and slice in half lengthwise.
Put two tablespoons of mayonnaise on the upper part of the bread.
Assemble the sandwich by putting the marinated carrot/daikon mixture on the bottom of the sandwich, then put the “meat” next, add sliced jalapeno, onion, and cilantro sprigs. You may want to add more soy sauce to the bottom of the bread before you do this depending on how saturated your carrot/daikon mixture is.
Put the top on the sandwich, and slice in half to have two three inch pieces. Voila. The banh mi!
Also, yes, this is a cultural blend of French influence on Vietnamese culture. The baguette is traditionally made to include rice flour!