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Banh mi


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#1 Laksa

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 11:44 AM

What I've been calling Vietnamese hoagie, and what I've been eating for a long time -- in fact my favourite sandwich -- I have only today found out that it's called "Banh Mi Thit Nguoi" (sp?).

I just had one for lunch. From what I can identify of the filling, there's two kinds of cold cuts, a meaty red paste, a creamy yellow spread that looks like mayonnaise, coriander (cilantro), a long strip of cucumber, juliennes of pickled carrot and radish (?), and hot chillies. The bread is a crusty white roll, like a small baguette.

The cold cuts, one pink and the other a pale off-white, are unlike any Western cold meats I've had. They taste like pork, but crunchy and gelatinous at the same time, reminding me of the cartilage in pig's ear. The meaty paste is stronger in flavor. It looks like a mixture of richly spiced ground fatty pork, and I can smell some liver in there too. Today's hoagie had strong black pepper overtones.

What goes in your favourite Banh Mi and where do you get it from?

Can anyone tell me the names of the meat ingrediets, and the mayonnaise? I intend to search the asian grocery stores for them. Also, can one buy the pickled carrots or does that have to be made from scratch?

#2 trillium

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 01:10 PM

It's probably liverwurst and Vietnamse pork "sausage". "Vietnamese Home Cooking" has a recipe for the sausage. Sometimes one side of the sandwich is covered in margarine and one side is covered in mayonaise or a sweet dressing like Miracle Whip.

In big cities you can usually find the carrot and daikon already pickled in vats in the produce section of a SE Asian grocery store, but it's not so hard to make at home either. You use white rice vinagar, sugar and salt to your taste to make the pickles.

My favorite Bahn Mi is one a friend taught me to make, you make homemade garlic mayonaise, and put it on crusty bread with "Thai" basil, cucumber, lettuce and poached shrimp. I've never seen that sold in shops. My favorite store-bought Bahn Mi is probably the grilled chicken one from a little corner grocery store accross from a bar I used to frequent in the Tenderloin in San Francisco.

regards,
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#3 GaijinGirl

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 08:50 AM

Hi! Just had a great Banh Vietnamese snack (in NYC), and I'm trying to find out the official name.

It was a pork sausage slice, sandwiched between two pieces of steamed glutinous flour. (And it had a little wrap of banana leaf on the outside.) The guy at the counter simply told me that it was a "Vietnamese Hamburger" - but I'm sure there's an official name for it somewhere? Thanks in advance for anyone who can help! (Also, if anyone knows the recipe...!)

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#4 lapageria

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 11:12 AM

I don't have a specific answer to your question, just a comment about "banh" in general.

"Banh" seems to be the collective designation for "cake" or "disc- or loaf-shaped" object. Used in much the same way as "kueh" in Malaysian/S'porean circles.

I was just of on a "banh beo" tear recently, but there are a multitude of examples. Two ends of the spectrum might be "banh mi" made with a Vietnamese-style baguette (made with some rice flour, I've read) and "banh cuon" (rolled banh?) made with steamed rice flour batter (like a flat noodle). The English term "cake" has as broad-ranging a usage (think hoe cake, coffee cake, etc.)

I hope Andrea reads your inquiry as I'm sure she'll have an answer. I'm curious, too.

Noel in Napa

#5 pieman

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 07:27 PM

I've seen people at Banh Cuon stalls in Saigon ordering extra dishes of just the plain gloppy rice flour pancake chopped up sometimes with a bit of mortadella on the side. Sounds similar to what you describe.

Banh Cuon itself comes stuffed. I think folk order the extra dish because Banh Cuon is so light some diners need a bit extra. Or perhaps they just love the pancake texture and taste. What you describe is not a 'hamburger', Vietnamese or otherwise. You can buy Vietnamese hamburgers in Vietnam that aren't all that dissimilar to the American original.

BTW, I just posted a short film of Banh cuon being made here on Ben Thanh market in Saigon at noodlepie.

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#6 Shiewie

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 08:43 PM

Have eaten what you described on a trip to Hanoi. Unfortuantely I don't know the name of it either - we bought it from this little old lady who sold it from two large bamboo baskets hung on a long pole that she carried on her shoulders.

Edited by Shiewie, 06 July 2004 - 08:44 PM.


#7 Andrea Nguyen

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Posted 12 July 2004 - 10:38 AM

Banh mi thit nguoi is essentially "the works" version of a Viet baguette sandwich. To make it yourself, get a light (not the rustic, chewy kind) baguette or petite baguette. Split it open and warm it briefly in a toaster oven. Take it out and let it cool for a few minutes. Now fill it up. Here are some guidelines:

1: Smear and drizzle
Smearing of whole-egg mayonaise on one side
Smearing of pork or chicken liver pate (avail. at Viet delis) on the other side
On the mayo side, drizzle in a little soy sauce or Maggi Seasoning sauce

2: Layer in the meat
Layer in your thin slices of cold cuts: head cheese (that's the crunchy stuff); gio (pork or chicken steamed pate); and some of that garlicky pink stuff (avail. at Viet delis)

3: Tuck in the veggies
Now, tuck in a few slices of cucumber, some daikon and carrot pickle that you've bought at the Asian market, a few thin slices of jalapeno pepper, 2-3 sprigs of cilantro

4: Close the sandwich, cut it in half and eat.

That's it. At home, you don't have to add all the various meats. It's too hard to get all the stuff together. If you've got some leftover roast chicken, beef, pork, lamb or even seared tofu, put it in the sandwich. The key is that the protein element should be boldly flavored. That is, salty, garlickly, etc...

Have fun,

Andrea
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#8 Andrea Nguyen

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Posted 12 July 2004 - 10:51 AM

It was a pork sausage slice, sandwiched between two pieces of steamed glutinous flour. (And it had a little wrap of banana leaf on the outside.) The guy at the counter simply told me that it was a "Vietnamese Hamburger" - but I'm sure there's an official name for it somewhere?


The glutinous rice cakes are called banh day (bun zay). It's handy, stick-to-your-ribs food. I like it for breakfast. The pork sausage you ate is called gio (yaw). You can stick all kinds of Viet charcuterie in between the banh day. Sometimes it's the cinnamon flavored one, then there's the crispy fatty one. Whatever suits your mood. Typically, I dip banh day (the hamburger concept is great) in a little pool of fish sauce. The banh are tasteless and there's only so much flavor the meat can contribute.

Vietnamese is full of odd and charming culinary concepts. Banh is certainly one of those. The term denotes savory or sweet foods made using flours and grains. That may be a cookie, cake, noodle, crepe, bread, or dumpling. In the Viet collective consciousness, it's all banh to us!

Andrea
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#9 GaijinGirl

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 03:22 AM

Andrea,

Thank you! (And thank everyone else who responded.) It's been killing me as to what it is, since I liked it so much. I really could eat bahn day everyday. Now...if only I could get a recipe... :biggrin:

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#10 kai-chan

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Posted 15 July 2004 - 09:09 AM

I live on the E. coast for 10 years and so far I've yet to meet a Vietnamese baguette. So I've decided to try my hand at breaking bread even though I have proven to be a barely competent baker. The only recipe I've been able to find is Corinne Trang's.


http://www.cnn.com/2...iews/bread.html

Unfortunately, it turned out pretty bad. Pale, flat, and dense. Can anyone give me advice as to what I should do with this recipe or maybe they have a better recipe??

Another problem I have is the crumbly rich pate. Where can I find a good recipe? I tried chicken liver but it somehow doesn't match the rich crumbly taste of the stuff I got in California. I'm not sure which recipes for the pork liver pate I should try.
If somehow can help I would be grateful. I got the VN steam ham hit and miss and char siu (Chinese BBQ) one down.


kai-chan

#11 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 15 July 2004 - 09:49 AM

Welcome kai-chan. I hope we get some responses here, because I would like to bake the bread and make the pate, too. The pate I eat here in Dallas made by a small family run restaurant and a Banh Mi shop are chicken liver and quite good, though I don't have others to compare for crumbliness.

#12 trillium

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Posted 15 July 2004 - 11:00 AM

I live on the E. coast for 10 years and so far I've yet to meet a Vietnamese baguette. So I've decided to try my hand at breaking bread even though I have proven to be a barely competent baker. The only recipe I've been able to find is Corinne Trang's.


http://www.cnn.com/2...iews/bread.html

Unfortunately, it turned out pretty bad. Pale, flat, and dense. Can anyone give me advice as to what I should do with this recipe or maybe they have a better recipe??

Another problem I have is the crumbly rich pate. Where can I find a good recipe? I tried chicken liver but it somehow doesn't match the rich crumbly taste of the stuff I got in California. I'm not sure which recipes for the pork liver pate I should try.
If somehow can help I would be grateful. I got the VN steam ham hit and miss and char siu (Chinese BBQ) one down.


kai-chan

Your bread problems sound like they can be solved, but first a few questions. Did you knead the dough until it was smooth and elastic? It will change in texture and you should be able to feel the difference, it will get smoother and stretchy. This is from the gluten forming. When you were raising the dough, did you let it double in volume each time? Did you handle it gently when you were putting the loaves in the oven so as not to deflate them? Did you check with a thermometer that your oven temperature was what you thought it was?

Can't help you on the pâté but I'm guessing that Andrea will pipe in any second now...

regards,
trillium

#13 jschyun

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Posted 15 July 2004 - 11:09 AM

What about using a regular baguette?
I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.
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#14 melonpan

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Posted 15 July 2004 - 08:44 PM

boy i feel like such a caveman, but i always thought that banh mi places served just high quality (crusty, chewy, warm just baked) french baguettes (yeah, maybe slightly smaller sandwich sized, but still a baguette). (chain places like lees sandwiches or mr baguette in los angeles area.)

didnt know that the vietnamese take on it was significantly different. (honest!) that theres even a recipe for a vietnamese baguette... the recipe cited uses half flour half rice flour... :blink: :huh:

next time i go for banh mi, ill take along a regular baguette for comparison. i guess my assumption (vn baguette = f baguette) clouded over any differences that may have been there.

compared to regular baguettes, are vietnamese ones more crispy and light (due to rice flour)??
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#15 kai-chan

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Posted 15 July 2004 - 11:04 PM

It has been over 6 years since I've had a VN baguette but I remember the crust to be crispier. When you bit into it, the crust crunched and pieces rained down your front. The crust wasn't too thick unless you were at the ends. The crumb was much lighter and softer. The baquettes I've had on the E. coast including a whole bunch of artisan breads ranged from semi-soft or giving crust to really hard thick chewy (more like gnawing) crusts. The crumb ranged from really dense in the artisan ones to kind of a little dry, spongy in the supermarket variety and one Italian bakery.

I didn't know it was a VN baguette vesus a French one until I couldn't find a banh mi out here on the right bread. I've tried Boston and NYC. I heard there were a couple of VN sandwich places in the Brooklyn Chinatown which had pretty good sandwiches. Haven't managed to get there yet but from the descriptions, it sounds like the bread might have been frozen by a West Coast VN bakery (hmmm...I'll take it back if someone points me to a genuines E. Coast VN bakery) and sent to at least one of the three VN deli places. The crust was described as so crispy it literally shattered when one bit into it. I was told that could be a sign of bread that has been frozen. And supposedly that store imports their cold cuts (probably from the W. Coast unless they mean VN) instead of making them. I can't say any of this from first hand and it is just all supposition.

Still if someone can tell me where I can find a VN bakery out here, I will be most grateful. Maybe I haven't turned up enough rocks. Goodness knows I have Googled it to death.

Back to the advice on my probably futile attempt at bread making. I have to say, it was a bit wet for proper kneading.....and I sort of forgot. I definitely didn't develop the gluten which is especially important since half the flour used, rice does not have gluten in it. I also used all purpose flour which has less gluten than proper bread flour. I was 50 degrees off from the recommended oven temp. I guess I got too excited about trying out my new baking tiles that I used to line my oven racks. Besides I read an account of someone who did exactly what the recipe said and produced exactly the same result. So it might not have turned out right even if I got everything right. Actually that came out badly. This could mean I'm destined to be without a VN baquette unless I go back West or VN. No I refuse to give up. After all, I managed to learn to make pho after a ghastly encounter with a Thai restaurant attempt to represent VN cuisine too. They topped my pho with beef stir-fried with onions. Maybe it wasn't b/c they were Thai. Maybe it's just my city leaching anything remotely ethnic into a pale obscene imitation of its former self. Sigh...and this is why I go to Queens, NY every weekend.


But never fear, I just brought bread flour and some wheat gluten. This time, I might produce something remotely edible rather than pale flat oval diskettes for the summer Olympics. I just wanted extra advice and possible alternative recipe (yet to hear of a sucessful attempt at Corinne Trang's Saigon baquette) in case I missed anything between the time of my bread disaster, perusal of Fannie Farmer Baking book and web research, and my second heroic attempt this weekend. May it not end up in the trash.

Anybody with a good rec for a possible pate recipe for banh mi?

Thanks,

kai-chan

#16 jschyun

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Posted 15 July 2004 - 11:38 PM

Hmm, interesting. I can't the difference between Viet baguette and French one. In fact, in my nearest Vietnamese neighborhood, there is a French bakery with French bakers that bakes up baguettes that all the Vietnamese customers snap up. I can ask, but I seriously doubt they put rice flour in their baguettes (quel horreur!) hehe

Your description of a Vietnamese baguette:

I remember the crust to be crispier. When you bit into it, the crust crunched and pieces rained down your front. The crust wasn't too thick unless you were at the ends. The crumb was much lighter and softer.


This sounds like a regular French baguette.
--spelling edit

--i don't understand that recipe.

Edited by jschyun, 15 July 2004 - 11:44 PM.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.
--NeroW

#17 trillium

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 10:34 AM

A French baguette should have a hard, dark crust (not straw colored) with a crumb that has large irregular holes, a nutty taste and be sort of creamy in color, as opposed to pure white. It should also be chewy, not soft.

What I think kai-chan is attempting to make has a much lighter, softer, fluffy pure white crumb with small fine holes, and has a thinner, lighter colored crust. Not to be offensive in any way, but it's sort of the Vietnamese interpertation of bad French bread (but that doesn't mean I'm saying it's bad bread). I know that my Vietnamese friends actually preferred the real French baguettes over the other sort, but most of the commercial banh mi I've eaten have come on the ones with soft, fluffy insides.

I'd be willing to try making the recipe out of curiousity, but not while it's still 80 F in the kitchen at 11 pm!


regards,
trillium

#18 Jason Perlow

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 10:41 AM

Hmm, interesting. I can't the difference between Viet baguette and French one. In fact, in my nearest Vietnamese neighborhood, there is a French bakery with French bakers that bakes up baguettes that all the Vietnamese customers snap up. I can ask, but I seriously doubt they put rice flour in their baguettes (quel horreur!) hehe

Your description of a Vietnamese baguette:

I remember the crust to be crispier. When you bit into it, the crust crunched and pieces rained down your front. The crust wasn't too thick unless you were at the ends. The crumb was much lighter and softer.


This sounds like a regular French baguette.
--spelling edit

--i don't understand that recipe.

Actually, this sounds like the stuff they put Po-Boys on in Louisiana.
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#19 Laksa

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 11:49 AM

I know that my Vietnamese friends actually preferred the real French baguettes over the other sort, but most of the commercial banh mi I've eaten have come on the ones with soft, fluffy insides.

If I have some cheese, olives and EVOO for drizzling or dipping, I prefer to eat them with the denser French baguette with its thicker crust. I can then tear off chunks of bread and break them into bite-size pieces with my hands. The smaller pieces of bread also make it easier to mop up oil.

If I'm eating a sandwich, I much prefer to bite into the thinner crust of the Vietnamese baguette -- the thinner crust is less likely to tear a hole in the roof of your mouth! :shock:

#20 Andrea Nguyen

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Posted 26 July 2004 - 10:39 AM

Vietnamese bakers used to make the most incredible baguettes with chewy crumbs and crispy, clover-honey colored crusts. They'd slit the dough just right so that the baguette would look like flexed arm muscles when baked. The aroma was amazing too. Over the years, rice flour has been mixed in with wheat flour for the dough. This explains why Vietnamese baguette has become so incredibly light over time.

You're not the first to say that Corinne Trang's recipe doesn't work well. Don't feel bad.

In Vietnam and in the U.S. you buy the baguette the day you eat it. It's so light that keeping it for more than 24 hours means the stuff will turn chewy and become hard to eat. You can't toast/warm it back to life. It's problematic if you don't have a local supply!

I personally leave baguette baking to the pros. If you're blessed with a fine selection of baguette to choose from, select the lighter ones -- not the rustic kind with thick crusts. And no sourdough please. The bread in Vietnamese banh mi is merely a light, crispy shell for all the goodies inside. I often hollow out some of the core so as to cram more stuff inside. Don't fear that your sandwich won't be good without the "authentic" bread. It'll taste terrific.

As an immigrants to the U.S., my family and I have adapted our foodways to make the most of what's available here. With regard to banh mi, it works out pretty well!

Andrea
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#21 NhumiSD

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Posted 17 August 2004 - 10:25 PM

Hi all,

What I know is that, French or Artisan baguettes tend to have a thicker crust as compared to the Vietnamese basguette. The Vietnamese bagueettes that I get from the stores in California tend to be lighter, with a thin crust outside. This is maybe due to a number of things.

1. The thin crust is due to the amount of steam it sees during the first 10 minutes of baking. The more steam, the harder the crust.

2. The amount of protein in the four is also important. The Italian and French would probably have more protein in its bread since it has more bite, resistance due to the more developed gulten in the dough. It could also be the amount of % of flour in a recipe. Less flour gives less gluten.

3. Iam also thinking that the dough itself probably went through a few rises, making as light as possible.

These are my thoughts, please correct me otherwise. I would love to bake them also at home.
One thing about french bread that I learned from relatives when staying in Paris is that, if you freeze the bread as soon as u buy it, then thawing 15 minutes in room temperature lets you have pretty good bread.

Anothre thing about the Pate. They tend to use pork liver. To make the pate light, my mom told me that in Saigon, they would finely crush day old bread into the pate.

Let me know how it went with ur baking.

-Yumi

#22 bong

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Posted 18 August 2004 - 09:43 AM

I found a recipe of Banh Mi bread, of all places, on CNN.com !
http://www.cnn.com/2...iews/bread.html

Banh Mi(Siagon Baguette)

From 'Authentic Vietnamese Cooking: Food from a Family Table'
by Corinne Trang (Simon and Schuster)

Ingredients:

    * 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
    * 1 tablespoon sugar
    * 1 cup all-purpose flour
    * 1 cup rice flour
    * 1 teaspoon salt
    * 2 tablespoons butter, melted


Looks like there is some rice flour involved, which will make it crispier.

#23 BettyK

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Posted 18 August 2004 - 10:11 AM

Bong, that's the same recipe that kai-chan used. I've tried it and I can vouch that it's a dud.

Edit: I wonder if Corrine Trang tested this recipe. If she reads this board, I hope she will chime in with a solution.

Edited by BettyK, 18 August 2004 - 10:52 AM.


#24 Kapuliperson

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Posted 23 September 2004 - 01:35 AM

try it again with more kneading.

#25 Ari Pappas

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 12:12 PM

Also, can one buy the pickled carrots or does that have to be made from scratch?


After having to smell pickled carrots made with vinegar and sugar that had sat in the fridge for a few days, I wasn't so sure about making my own pickled vegetables for banh mi (or for banh cuon, banh hoi, or com). Realizing that the pickles at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant do NOT stink, I asked them about the carrot & daikon pickle, and how it's made. Apparently it's a one-day pickle that should be used rapidly and fresh, much more like a salad than any fermented pickle. They didn't give me an exact recipe, but I believe it's just vinegar, salt, and sugar to taste, maybe with a few whole peppercorns in the brine, left to marinate for a few hours.

Given that the "good" pickles taste more like a Thai salad than anything else, I'm betting that this is typical.

#26 rlummis

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 12:26 PM

The new Momofuku cookbook has recipes for a chicken liver terrine and a ham terrine that they use in their banh mi. It also has a pickled carrot and daikon recipe that takes about 2 days. I have no useful ideas on the bread.

#27 Katie Meadow

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 02:54 PM

Andrea has a no-fail recipe for pickled daikon and carrots in her book Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. I've made it many times. She even has some comments about that smell which might develop after a few days and how to get it to go away. I never had a problem with it, and was able to make a couple of large jars that keep for at least a week or more. I never had any left after that, so don't know its limits. It's definitely more than a one-day pickle, though. It looks like a lot more than it is, once you start making sandwiches.

I started making Banh Mi using Andrea's recipe, then branched out with various types of grilled meats. The easiest and tastiest way to obtain the pate was to simply buy a smooth French-style liver pate at my deli, since I'm not ambitious enough to make my own. If someone made me a Momofuku pate I'd be thrilled, I'm sure. I did learn to cook the Char Siu (bbq pork) from Andrea's book, and that was well worth it. However if you want to spare yourself the time and have a convenient Ranch 99 or Chinatown nearby, it's easy enough to buy a variety of grilled pork, sausages, etc. I found that spicy grilled or flash-fried shrimp make a great banh mi without the pate, and so does any simple form of Asian-flavored grilled chicken.

I'm far too lazy to search out Vietnamese bread, so I just use my favorite sweet or rustic baguette. After all, this kind of sandwich thrives on improv. To me, what makes it taste distinctive is a little maggi in the mayo, the daikon-carrot pickle, the fresh cilantro and sliced cukes.

Edited by Katie Meadow, 29 October 2009 - 02:56 PM.


#28 melonpan

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 01:50 AM

i use 1:1 sugar:rice vinegar brine with julienned daikon and carrot and it tastes right to me. i use within a day of making it.
"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo

#29 dave43

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 08:29 AM

I found a Mexican Bakery that makes Bolillo that Andrea reccommended, unfortunately it is far enough away that getting fresh rolls is impractical. Would it be OK to freeze the rolls?

#30 HungryC

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 09:05 AM

I found a Mexican Bakery that makes Bolillo that Andrea reccommended, unfortunately it is far enough away that getting fresh rolls is impractical. Would it be OK to freeze the rolls?

I've had decent luck in freezing vietnamese style pistolette rolls. Split before freezing and stick inside a zip top bag (press out all the air). Defrost for a couple of hours at room temp for soft rolls, or reheat from frozen at around 250 degrees in a toaster oven for crispy results. I freeze all sorts of homemade bread with great results.