Inside a Banh Mi Sandwich

Maxime Iattoni

Originating on the streets of Saigon, the Banh Mi sandwich is a French-Vietnamese hybrid consisting of an airy baguette, sour pickled daikon and carrot, crisp cilantro, spicy chilis, and a cool sliver of cucumber surrounding any number of protein options, from sweet minced pork to fatty pate to sardines. Finding authentic ingredients to create your own version of Vietnam's signature sandwich may require a bit of searching, but it is well worth the effort to create this exotic classic. Most contain Cha Lua, a cooked pork roll lightly seasoned with fish sauce, and traditionally steamed or boiled in a banana leaf. Thit Nguoi is a Vietnamese salami containing cured pork layered with fat; ham or headcheese are also acceptable substitutions. The baguette looks similar to its French counterpart, however rice flour is incorporated to produce a crackly crust and an airy texture that simply frames the sandwich and allows its contents to shine. For those without an extensive spice rack, Lobo Roast Red Pork Seasoning Mix will give your nem nuong minced pork its authentic flavor and standard pinkish hue.