It's no secret that we love our sandwiches around here; we eat 'em for you on a daily basis. Honestly, we probably could have devoted the entire Serious Eats book to them. Well, the book does have some serious sandwich coverage including some incredible sandwich recipes courtesy of Kenji.
Our recipe for Bacon Banh Mi brings our favorite Vietnamese sandwich home, swapping out the usual array of cold cuts and charcuterie for bacon but staying true to the other elements that make this sandwich so balanced and irresistible.
If you can, start with a Vietnamese rice flour baguette; it's got the ideal crumb, chew, and crunch to really make or break this sandwich. After that, it's time to quick-pickle carrots and daikon, slice up cucumbers and jalapeño, and stir up an umami-rich drizzle of soy, Maggi, and fish sauce. And then fry up some bacon, slather on the mayo, and assemble. It's a truly remarkable sandwich, and there's something even more remarkable about being able to replicate it at home.
Adapted from Serious Eats: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Eating Delicious Food Wherever You Are by Ed Levine and The Serious Eats Team. Copyright © 2011. Published by Clarkson Potter. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved
- 1 large carrot, cut into 2-inch matchsticks 1/8-inch-thick (about 2 cups)
- 1 small daikon radish, cut into 2-inch matchsticks 1/8-inch-thick (about 2 cups)
- 3/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 16 slices thick-cut bacon
- 4 Vietnamese baguettes or high-quality hero rolls
- 1 teaspoon Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon Maggi seasoning sauce
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut lengthwise into 8 strips
- 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut lengthwise into matchsticks
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro (about 16 sprigs)
- Freshly ground black pepper
Place carrot, daikon, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of salt in a medium mixing bowl. Using your hands, massage salt and sugar into vegetables until they begin to soften and exude liquid. Set the bowl aside at room temperature for 30 minutes, then drain the vegetables. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup of water in a small bowl or Tupperware container and mix until sugar is dissolved. Pour vinegar mixture over drained vegetables, and refrigerate until ready to use, at least 1 hour. (The vegetables should last at least 10 days, and will get better with time.)
Adjust oven rack to middle position, and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread the bacon over it. Bake the bacon until crispy, about 15 minutes, then drain on a plate lined with two layers of paper towels.
Remove foil from baking sheet and discard it, then place baguettes on the now-empty baking sheet. Toast for 3 minutes until exterior is crispy. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine fish sauce, Maggi seasoning sauce, soy sauce, and remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar.
With a bread knife, slit baguettes lengthwise, leaving a hinge to keep two halves connected. Spread 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise evenly inside each baguette. Stuff the baguettes with four slices of bacon, a quarter cup of pickled vegetables, two cucumber strips, a few slices of jalapeño, and four sprigs of cilantro. Drizzle with fish sauce mixture and season with salt and pepper. Close sandwiches and serve.