More Specialties of Vietnam

Here is another classic dish from the heart of Vietnam.  

Bánh Xèo translates to "sizzling cake" because of the unmistakeable sound of sizzle that occurs when the batter consisting of rice flour, water, and turmeric for color hits the ripping hot pan.  This is another dish influenced by the French that could compare to the crepe, however it is crispy and filled with savory delights like sprouts, scallion, shrimp and slices of flavorful and fatty pork.  

Here in the states, bánh xèo is usually served with lettuce, herbs, and a dipping sauce with fish sauce (nước mắm), and chilies.  In Vietnam, we enjoy wrapping the sizzling "cake" in mustard greens for an extra bit of flavor and bite.

Bánh Xèo with pork, shrimp, sprouts, & herbs wrapped in mustard greens.  I'm getting this baby ready for the dunk and dive into that spicy, salty sauce before the big crunch and DEVOUR.

Bánh Xèo with pork, shrimp, sprouts, & herbs wrapped in mustard greens.  I'm getting this baby ready for the dunk and dive into that spicy, salty sauce before the big crunch and DEVOUR.

Bê Thui (Roasted Veal)

This is a whole calf roasted slowly over an open flame and boyyy is it delicious.  I'm hoping Chef chooses to display the tasty beast in a more demure kind of fashion, but here is a secret...we have a giant rotisserie on display for you all to see and I'm sure this will be on the menu.  

Vietnam specializes in this delicacy.

The best bite comes after the aromatics and roasted flavors marry the animal as it rides the merry-go-round over a controlled heat.  The meat should be tender, moist, with a hint of blush pink in the center.  This is sliced, seasoned, and enjoyed with a peppery fresh bite of Vietnamese coriander.  

Here is another example of what you can do by charcoal roasting.  

This is a suckling pig that was butterflied, hung to dry, and spit-roasted.  The skin is SO crispy and the pig sweats big flavors from the soft white meat. This technique is much more influenced by the Chinese rule and could be compared to their style of a traditional dish, Peking duck.

ME: "Hey Chef!" (He's in the other room) "Can you tell me a bit about that suckling pig for the blog?" CHEF: "Yea!  It's going to be on the menu and I'm going to CRUSH it!" So yea, sounds like it's going to be a HaiSous Đặc Sản (House Specialty).

ME: "Hey Chef!" (He's in the other room) "Can you tell me a bit about that suckling pig for the blog?" CHEF: "Yea!  It's going to be on the menu and I'm going to CRUSH it!"

So yea, sounds like it's going to be a HaiSous Đặc Sản (House Specialty).

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Bánh Mì

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. 

HaiSous

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.

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