Monday, I blogged about two of what are perhaps the best-known Vietnamese dishes in this part of the world -- Pho and banh mi.
Pho, the clear broth beef and noodle soup is delicious, but banh mi, the Vietnamese sandwich, when done properly, is a delight.
So what does properly done mean? First and foremost the bread has to be fresh – and by that I mean just-out-of-the-oven, crusty French bread. No soft white bread. Make sure you are buying your banh mi from a bakery that bakes its own. Stale bread just doesn’t get it.
Next, as you might well guess, is what goes inside. Most Vietnamese places that sell banh mi have at least a dozen varieties from which to choose. You won’t find one that isn’t delicious, but my favorite is Chinese red barbecue pork, lots of cilantro, jalapenos and don’t even think about asking for mayonnaise. The condiment of choice is soy sauce. Banh mi come already loaded, so generally you won’t need to ask for anything else.
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Other delicious things you will find on banh mi are French style liver pate, meat balls, and lots of veggies, plus a few American selections, for those who are not adventurous.
If you want to take a whack at making your own, buy bread at one of the local Vietnamese bakeries, then visit the Lee International Market on Division in Biloxi. They have a master roaster there, so you can find the red barbecue pork, crispy pork and Peking duck as well. Make sure to get all the fresh garnishes you will need, like cilantro and jalapeños too.