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When I’m exploring Vietnam, a thousand street snacks beckon, but I inevitably seek out banh mi, the ubiquitous Franco-Viet sandwich. I order the dac biet, “the special.” The vendor slashes open a crisp baguette, moistens it with mayonnaise and soy sauce, adds garlicky pork liver pate and Vietnamese cold cuts—silky gio lua sausage, marbled headcheese, rich pork shank—and finishes it with daikon and carrot pickles, chile slices, cucumber, and cilantro. My expectations are met at first bite: crisp, earthy, bright. The bread, condiments, and meats are the legacy of French and Chinese colonialism, but banh mi dac biet is 100 percent Viet. —Andrea Nguyen author of Asian Dumplings (Ten Speed Press, 2009)

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See the recipe for Banh Mi »

See an ingredient breakdown of the Banh Mi sandwich »

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