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The Banh Mi Uncovered

I love a good sandwich. Though we all have our own definition of what  a good sandwich is- well, this what mine looks like.

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Grilled Chicken Banh Mi Wrap

My favorite sandwich is the Vietnamese Banh Mi. By now they are everywhere, except at your local Subway. Boy, are they missing out. In Denver they can be found over on Federal Blvd which is my not so secret stomping ground. I love Federal. It makes me feel adventurous but I don’t have to show my passport when crossing over. I love the thrill of discovery and the excitement it brings. And that is how I found this sandwich at  Ba Lee – a tiny sandwich place stuck in a nondescript strip 



 A true piece of heaven if heaven was
so easy to find. And no I did not take the picture.

A banh mi
sandwich is something I love. Truly. If you haven’t had one, don’t. Otherwise
you will crave them forever. And I mean forever. They are that good. Few foods
combine the sweet and salty and spicy better than this. Not to mention the
crunchy veggies and the warmth of the bread. Add in the crinkle of the butcher
paper and the price of $3.50. Well, I don’t want to give you a heart attack. And
did I mention the beauty of the sandwich? I am not a great photographer but
hopefully you can see how the colors play off of each other. The dark greens,
the orange and white- well, it brings out the artist in me.
 Did I mention I am a huge fan of Vietnamese
food? And I think we have some of the best in Denver. I love it all. But the reason I love
the banh mi is because of its simplicity and the fact that you can cram so much
flavor onto a little bit of bread. It is totally satisfying both in the mouth
and on the pocketbook. Many of the components are easily made at home. The
hardest part to get right is the bread. Banh mi bread is really a French
baguette. But it is a French baguette made by the Vietnamese. It is crisp but
tender and for a Banh Mi it is always served warm. When I make them at home
that is the part that is always lacking so the next time I go to Federal I am
going to buy a dozen baguettes and put them in the freezer next to my bialys
from Phoenix. Yes
they are really different from what you buy at your local grocer. So I now make
a Banh Mi wrap. They look like this
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 and I buy them at the Pacific Ocean grocery
on Alameda,
just East of Federal. (They just went through a major re do and it is now a
super great store.) Though they aren’t as great as a true Banh Mi  we still manage to scarf them down.
the protein. I’ve seen lots of choices. Pates are typical (that French
influence don’t ya know?) pork meatballs, grilled chicken, grilled pork, pork
belly, tofu, and I could go on. But I am giving you the chicken version. I also
love the pork meatballs but it is January and I am still thinking to try to be
The other
components of a Banh Mi are the mayo, and the veggies. Now  Ba Le does not use mayo that I know of and I
don’t miss it. But when we do our wraps I do add a bit of Sriracha infused mayo
which adds a bit of zip or you could just add the Sriracha on its own if you like
spicy. The carrot and daikon mixture is easy to make but you can also buy that
at the Asian grocery for about $2 bucks. Then you add your fresh jalapenos and
cilantro and you are looking at a thing of beauty. Not so beautiful though that
you can’t sink your teeth into it. Yeah, This is How I Cook!
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Grilled Chicken Banh
Mi (Makes about 4)
2 lb
boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 garlic
4 shallots
2 t sugar
2 T fish sauce (nuoc mam)
2 T light
soy sauce
grinds of freshly ground black pepper
garlic and shallots in a blender or food processor. Add seasonings and smear on
POUNDED breasts. Marinate several hours and even overnight. Grill until done.
Slice into thin strips for Banh Mi.
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Carrot Daikon Pickled Salad
Carrot Daikon
Pickled Salad
2 c
carrots (Slice carrots lengthwise in half. Then cut each half into long flat
slices. Then stack these slices and cut into thin strips.)
2 c
daikon (Japanese white radish-our grocery sells them in the produce section.) Cut
like carrots.
¼ c
unseasoned rice vinegar
¼ c sugar
1 t
kosher salt
Toss all
together in a bowl. Let stand 1 hour tossing occasionally. Drain before putting
on Banh Mi.
Other Ingredients
Jalapeno (Slice thin with seeds or deseed if you don’t want as spicy)
or Wraps (I use a paratha wrap that I buy in the frozen section at the Asian
grocery. You then heat them in a medium high preheated dry skillet until golden
on each side. This takes about 2-3 minutes.)
hot sauce or Sriracha Mayo (I combine 2/3c mayo with 2 finely chopped green
onions and 1T sriracha.)
assemble: Using a warm wrap or split baguette spread a little bit of mayo (if
you are using) on bread. Add sliced chicken. Then top with carrot mixture, a
few sprigs of cilantro and a few slices of jalapeno.
Eat to
your heart’s content.
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Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes

Thursday 23rd of May 2013

This is one sandwich that I´ve yet to eat or make. Yet, I´m terribly attracted to it. Weird, since I don´t eat much asian food. But thanks for this recipe Abbe! If I ever make it I now know how to.


Tuesday 22nd of January 2013

Thanks Natalie.It is a great one!


Tuesday 22nd of January 2013

What a sandwich! I love it!


Tuesday 22nd of January 2013

Gabi would love it! It is a sandwich loaded with flavor. You should try it! Thanks for writing.

Purabi Naha

Tuesday 22nd of January 2013

Vietnamese food is one of my favourites too, although I never tried Banh Mi sandwich. This sounds loaded with flavours....very interesting! Good to know that Denver has such great Vietnamese food options.