Bahn Mi is a French-Vietnamese fusion sandwich with chicken, homemade pickle, bean sprouts, cilantro, Sriracha sauce served on a baguette. This easy version of a Vietnamese classic will surely delight you.
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The Bahn Mi Sandwich
Driving around Austin, you will eventually come across signs for Bahn Mi, the Vietnamese-French fusion sandwich that is growing in popularity nationwide. Known as the Vietnamese PoBoy in Louisiana and the Vietnamese Hoagie in Philadelphia, this once obscure sandwich cuisine is becoming common place to most parts of the country.
Austin’s growing immigrant population creates a certain slice of heaven for foodies. Food carts, strip mall restaurants and immigrant-run food markets ensures an authentic, World cuisine experience narrated by the natives themselves. You will develop a certain skill for pointing to items and impromptu sign language as a form of communication. You will almost always part with a smile on your lips and gratitude in your hearts, your gratitude for the experience and theirs for allowing them to share a piece of their culture with you.
Once you overcome the trepidation of trying a new cuisine, stepping into a microcosm where English may not be spoken, you will be rewarded with a French inspired Vietnamese sandwich that is like no other. You will stuff yourself and lick the dressing off your arm that is making a bee line for your elbows. You will rave and drag your friends, sometimes kicking and screaming, back to the slice of heaven that you newly discovered. You will watch as their faces transform from skepticism to pure joy. The many layers of flavor that will tickle their palate will give rise to many questions. ‘What’s in this?’ they will ask. ‘Why are there carrots and cucumber? Is THAT cilantro?’ You will answer as confidently as you can, still not knowing exactly what IS in this culinary invention.
I have re-created, to the best of my ability, an easy version of this classic sandwich with chicken. This chicken has a quick marinade and a quick pickle made with carrots and cucumber. The sauce is a simple Mexican Crema mixed with Sriracha. It is finished on a market baguette that has been hollowed out. It is interesting to note that the Vietnamese baguette has a thinner crust and is made with rice flour and wheat flour. I would like to try making this one day, I have had the real thing and I think it would be worth it to take the extra steps in making this.
Bahn Mi actually means wheat bread but in the West it is known as a meat sandwich in a baguette. There are infinite variations of the Bahn Mi, typically with three or more types of meat. I have enjoyed sandwiches with two types of pork and pork liver pate. It was quite good. For simplicity and ease, I stuck to one meat but do try and experiment. Let me know how it goes. Enjoy!
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