Early 2000’s, The Koala and I arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam at 6am local time during the coldest month of the year. We’d just flown in from balmy Kuala Lumpur and had been awake for at 24 hours. We weren’t prepared for the cold but we dumped our stuff at our hotel and went exploring.
The city was wide awake, bright and bustling. Big baskets of bread stacked on the footpath and banh mi sellers bundled up and huddled together like winter birds cozied up on a branch.
What is banh mi?
For those unfamiliar with banh mi, the word “banh mi” (pronounced BUN-mee) just means “bread” in Vietnamese but has come to mean a single serve baguette sandwich. The French colonials left behind baguettes and pate when they left Vietnam in the 1950s and the locals created this awesome fusion sandwich before fusion was a thing. Stuffed with pork or chicken, pate, mayo, cucumber, coriander (cilantro), pickled vegetables and sometimes chillies, they are made fresh to order so you get to choose (in our case point) the ingredients you want. After the Vietnam war, Vietnamese refugees brought banh mi to the world and the rest is history.
We had a few banh mi from the street sellers but I have to be honest, they weren’t to my taste. While the prices were crazy cheap, less than $1NZ for two banh mi, there just wasn’t enough stuff in them to satisfy.
I’d rather pay more and get more. Call me a glutton, but I like my banh mi to be stuffed almost to overflowing with ingredients. Mind you, we’re used to paying around $10NZ per banh mi here in New Zealand. Quite a big price hike!
Our Growing Edge this month has a PICNIC theme and I’m bringing banh mi to the picnic. Being winter here, it seems odd to be posting for a picnic, but considering I’ve ate only ever eaten banh mi in Vietnam during winter, I thought this was fitting.
I’ve never made banh mi before and this is not exactly authentic, but I’ve picked out flavours and textures that go wonderfully together and I hope you’ll agree this is quite delicious.
This post is part of Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event to encourage bloggers to try new food related things. Maddie from Supper’ Lovin is the host for this month’s event.
If you have a blog and you are eating or cooking something new this month, click below to join. More information here.
Crispy roast pork belly
Lots of pork belly has been cooked and eaten over the last month as I’ve been perfecting my Crispy Roast Pork recipe. I can assure you The Koala doesn’t mind one bit! The updated recipe for this can be found here.
Some notes on the ingredients
- I picked a Braeburn apple to go with the pork. Braeburns are typically crisp, sweet and tart so if you don’t get Braeburns where you are, substitute with an apple that has crisp, sweet and tart qualities.
- I chose to use long rolls from our local bakery because I find that baguettes can sometimes be too stiff and you end up squeezing out all the filling just taking a bite. This is just my preference.
- I didn’t make my own pate this time, but if you would like to, check out my recipe for duck liver, sage and cognac pate here.
- I didn’t use chilies but I kind of wish I had. Really depends on who you’re catering. I’ve included chilies as an optional ingredient in below.
Before I show you the recipe, here’s what those who tried these banh mi said about them…
What the critics are saying:
“You could never buy a banh mi like this. It’s too good.”
– The Koala
“The banh mi is SOOO delicious. Cracklin was still good!!! Ohhhh yum”
– My sister
Pork Belly Banh Mi
- 8 long rolls or 2 baguettes cut into 8
- 1kg free range pork belly roasted and sliced (see recipe here)
- 1 red capsicum (bell pepper), sliced
- 1 apple (Braeburn), sliced
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- 1/3 cucumber, sliced
- Coriander (cilantro), torn to pieces
- Optional: sliced chilies
- Cut rolls in half and spread mayo and mustard on the inside top and pate on the inside bottom of each roll.
- Add a slice of pork belly (crackling pointing outwards) and then continue filling the roll with the fresh ingredients.
- Tie each roll with string or wrap in paper or plastic wrap.
- Enjoy with friends.
- Crackling pointing outwards and away from wet ingredients keeps it dry and crispy, even for hours. Plus it looks great.
- Fresh chillies go with the fresh theme here but chilli paste or hot sauce wouldn’t go astray.
Banh Mi is one of my favourite street food treats. If I had to pick one cuisine to live on forever, Vietnamese might be it. I was there 2 years ago and all I did was eat and look at stuff while wondering what I would eat next. I serve something similar at my current job but we use a pretzel bun, which adds a whole new dimension. I love the look of yours. A lot. The fresh apple is great addition. It’s 630 am here and I’m wondering where to go for a banh mi lunch today…..thanks 🙂
Pretzel bun sounds fun! I love Vietnamese but I’d hate to have to pick one cuisine for ever. Just thinking about it makes me nervous.
Ha ! Agreed, we should never have to pick just one. We’re also lucky to live in countries with access to good food from everwhere in the world 🙂
Totally. I have friends from other countries or move to other countries that are astonished by the quality of our ethnic foods. A friend moved to Germany for a while and said he couldn’t find any decent sushi. Whereas here, you can find good sushi everywhere.
Finally I know how to say Banh mi properly yay!
I believe the critics, your version does look delicous.
I’m glad you enjoyed my pronunciation geekery. I always like to look up how to pronounce foreign words when I’m working on a new post…In hopes of not looking like a noob 😀
Banh mi in Hanoi! So amazing… Miss that place
I had a soft spot for their donuts too. Went very well with their wicked coffee.
Oh yum, that looks delicious! Might have to give your recipe a go!
Please do and let me know how you get on 🙂
The crackling gets me everytime. Looks great. Wish I had been able to try this while in Vietnam.
Interesting combination, that pork crackling looks delicious!
Yummy, I love Bahn Mi!!! I also thoroughly enjoyed this tasty and very cheap street food while travelling through Vietnam, it became a staple lunch 🙂
Love your take with the crispy pork and the photos are awesome!
Your bahn mi, OMG! Food porn! Ohhhh! 🙂
Loved this post! I had never heard of bahn mi, but yours look AMAZING. And i’m with you, I’d rather have something stuffed full of fillings 🙂 I wish I could grab one through the screen and take it for my lunch tomorrow 🙂
Thanks Nicola. I wish I could grab one through my screen now too. If only taking photos of your food meant you could eat it again later. 😀
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Haha you make me laugh, I love your part what the critics say.
I STILL haven’t made pork belly, and I can understand how the Koala is fine with you making/perfecting it. I would be too. Your Banh Mi looks great!
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