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Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011 01:29 am

Bánh Mi

Vietnamese “sub” sandwiches


Bánh Mi have long been popular in Vietnam. Lately they’re taking America by storm: “Are Bánh Mi poised to become New York’s #1 sandwich?” asked New York Magazine recently.  After winning challenges in every city for the entire contest, L.A.’s Bánh Mi truck, Nom Nom, was narrowly defeated as winner of the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. 

Bánh Mi might not have hit Springfield yet, but they’re easily made at home.   They are such a family favorite that they’ve become our standard take-on-roadtrips fare. I always use lemongrass sausage, the recipe for which can be found online at IT’s website.  It’s so delicious that it’s hard to keep from snitching pieces of it as I slice it.   The sausage has many other uses:  in stir-fries, to make summer rolls, or made into meatballs.  I often also add cooked shrimp in the sandwiches, or slices of leftover grilled or roast pork or chicken. 

  • Vietnamese dipping sauce (see below)
  • c. EACH carrot and daikon, cut into thin matchsticks
  • Fresh crusty sub rolls or six-inch lengths of baguette*
  • Mayonnaise
  • Soft lettuces or baby greens
  • Fresh Asian (preferred) or Italian basil, cilantro, and mint leaves

Possible fillings (alone or in combination):

  • Vietnamese sausage, cut into strips (see below)
  • Cooked shrimp
  • Grilled or roasted sliced chicken or pork
  • Fried tofu strips
  • Sautéed portabello mushroom slices
  • Thinly sliced ham
  • Headcheese and/or liver pté, such as  braunschweiger

In a resealable plastic bag or a bowl, toss the carrot and daikon matchsticks with the dipping sauce.  Marinate for at least one hour and up to several days before (refrigerate if not using within a few hours).  This makes enough pickled carrot and daikon for 4-6 sandwiches; leftovers can be kept for about two weeks.

Drain the vegetables (save the liquid for use as a dipping sauce). 

Cut the rolls lengthwise without completely cutting through one edge.  Spread both cut sides lightly with mayonnaise and line with lettuces.  Add the filling ingredients to your liking.  They can be eaten immediately, or wrapped tightly and kept, refrigerated, for a few hours.

*Vietnamese bakers use a combination of wheat and rice flour to make Bánh Mi buns which results in an exceptionally light crumb and crisp crust. For best results, choose a similar roll or baguette rather than something heavier, such as sourdough or whole wheat.

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