Nguyen, a Vietnamese-born San Francisco–based food writer who has penned books on such Asian ingredients as tofu and dumplings, here offers a bite-sized exploration of banh mi, the cold cut sandwiches that are a street food favorite in Ho Chi Minh City. Over the course of nine chapters and 50 recipes, the sandwich is broken out into its basic components. Bread, of course, is half the battle, and Nguyen provides both a guide of what to look for when buying the perfect loaf, as well as a fast-rising recipe to create a baguette-like roll. Indeed, if there is a French sensibility to some of what is offered, it is due to the fact that, as explained in the introduction, France ruled Vietnam from 1883 to 1954. So, there is a classic mayonnaise, with Dijon mustard, in the sauces chapter and pork liver pate among the cold cuts. There are also tangy sauces like sriacha aioli and curiosities like silky sausage, which turns out to be a rather romantic name for a Viet bologna made of ground chicken or pork. There are plenty of hot sandwich fillings as well, some of which borrow from American comfort foods; notably, the lemongrass Sloppy Joe, seasoned with star anise, ginger, and fish sauce. (July)
Created by Vietnamese street vendors over a century ago, banh mi is a twist on the French snack of pâté and bread that is as brilliant as it is addictive to eat. Who can resist the combination of crisp baguette, succulent filling, and toppings like tangy, pickled daikon and carrots, thin chile slices, refreshing cucumber strips, and pungent cilantro sprigs? Bringing a new realm of flavor for anyone tired of standard sandwich fare, The Banh Mi Handbook presents more than fifty recipes and numerous insights for crafting a wide range of sandwiches, from iconic classics to modern innovations, including: Crispy Drunken Chicken, Shrimp in Caramel Sauce, Grilled Lemongrass Pork, Beef and Curry Sliders, Coconut Curry Tofu and Lettuce Wrap Banh Mi.
Andrea Nguyen’s simple, delicious recipes for flavor-packed fillings, punchy homemade condiments, and crunchy, colorful pickled vegetables bring the very best of Vietnamese street food to your kitchen.
One of NPR's Best Cookbooks of 2014
“ Who better than Andrea Nguyen to unravel the mysteries of one of the great sandwiches of the world? Her book is deceptively simple on the outside but bursting with layers of flavor and complexity within—just like the best banh mi. As always, Andrea puts mastery within the reach of any curious cook smart enough to take her advice.”
—Joe Yonan, author of Eat Your Vegetables
“ Brimming with information, inspiration, and smart advice, this is much more than a sandwich book. Andrea Nguyen once again demonstrates her commendable talent for writing recipes that deliver great tasting food and teach you to become a better cook.”
—Molly Stevens, author of All About Roasting
“ Andrea perfectly tells the story of how Vietnamese food culture was influenced by French colonials. Her simple recipes elevate very humble ingredients to heights you would not expect. I can’t wait to incorporate some of these ideas into our sandwich menu.”
—Sam Mogannam, owner of Bi-Rite Market
“Through these recipes, Andrea tells her life story. From childhood lunches of silky sausage on toasted baguettes to postmodern banh mi smeared with curried edamame pâté, she sketches the transformation of a sandwich, born of French and Chinese colonization and Vietnamese ingenuity, into a global culinary phenomenon.”
—John T. Edge, author of The Truck Food Cookbook
"Lots of tasty riffs on the meaty, pickly, crunchy, saucy, spicy Vietnamese sandwich."
—Cooking Light, July 2014
"The banh mi sandwich is itself the product of many miles traveled: the crusty bread brought to Vietnam by French colonists, filled with all the bright, hot, fresh, meaty, intensely tasty elements of the local cuisine. This delicious cultural collision is the subject of "The Banh Mi Handbook: Recipes for Crazy-Delicious Vietnamese Sandwiches" by Andrea Nguyen. . . . it's a master course in banh mi construction, from the bread to the pickles and condiments to every imaginable filling, whether it's pork meatballs or fried oysters or a lipsmacking citrus-marinated grilled chicken you're hankering for."
—Wall Street Journal, June 2014
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Makes 1 generous cup (250 ml) ■ Takes about 5 minutes, plus 30 minutes resting
Part of the banh mi maker’s craft is preparing mayonnaise from scratch. While I do keep a jar of store bought, full-fat mayo in the fridge, when I want the best banh mi possible, I make it. It’s easy in a food processor; see Mayo Notes for a blender method. You’ll need a measuring cup with a spout to pour the oil.
1 large egg, near or at room temperature
¼ plus ⅛ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup (240 ml) canola oil
Put the egg, salt, mustard, water, and lemon juice in the food processor’s work bowl. Start the processor and after a creamy yellow mixture forms, 5 to 10 seconds, start pouring the oil through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream as thin as angel hair pasta. Midway through, after things thicken, pour a thicker stream, as wide as spaghetti.
After about 2 minutes, all the oil should be incorporated and the mayo should be creamy and spreadable. (If yours is curdled or soupy—broken—see Mayo Notes, opposite.) If needed, adjust with extra salt (savoriness) or lemon juice (tang), pulsing the machine to blend well.
Transfer to an airtight container. Before using, wait for 30 minutes to meld flavors and firm up. Keeps well in the refrigerator for at least a week.