Bánh Mì is a term for many kinds of bread. During the colonial period, the French introduced breads, more specifically, baguettes. Bánh mì has a lighter cell structure with a thin crispy crust from the rice flour, compared to traditional French style wheat baguettes.
The Western Hemisphere recognizes "bánh mì" as the iconic meat filled sandwich with herbs, pickled vegetables, and a type of sweet mayo.
Banh mi is to Vietnam as hoagie is to Philadelphia or po' boy is to Louisiana.
In Vietnam bánh mì is an art.
We met so many families who have made and perfected the baguette for generations. Their craft is learned, practiced, perfected, then passed on to the next generation of bread makers.
A proper base for the sandwich is a spreadable pork liver pâté. Did you know that? Pâté on sandwiches is another culinary gift from the French. Roasted pork or duck, bbq pork, grilled chicken, head cheese, or Vietnamese sausage and egg in the mornings are typical menu items. The sandwiches are stuffed with varieties of pickled vegetables, an abundance of mixed herbs, and cucumber with spicy chili sauce or a sweet aioli.
We make as many trips as possible to our favorite spot for bánh mì in central Vietnam when we visit. It's a flavor that never leaves my tongue or my mind. The thought of that fresh bread stuffed with all of the house made specialties is enough to make me crave even as I write.
My father-in-law eats ice cream sandwiches like you find in Vietnam. It's bánh mì with scoops of ice cream and toasted peanuts on top. It's literally an ice cream sandwich. They are snacks to cool you down and found all over the streets during the steaming hot summer season.
At HaiSous. We bake our own bánh mì (baguette) for an assortment of daily sandwiches. Chef Thai will start with his finest spread of pâté and thinly sliced headcheese that he made from slowly cooking the animal head. The kitchen features rotisserie-roasted whole pig, properly pickled veg and fresh herbs with chilies that will overstuff the bread. We will make this because we want to eat this. And you will too.