Springtime Banh Mi
GREEN, EGGS AND LAMB
Long before the banh mi sandwich craze hit the States, Vietnamese restaurants around the world have been serving up this fusion of French and Vietnamese in a somewhat simple sandwich.
Banh mi (a Vietnamese term for all kinds of bread) is typically made with a French-style baguette—crisp on the outside with a soft interior—that was introduced to Vietnam during the French occupation of Indochina. When the French left Vietnam, some of the ingredients such as the cornichons (French small gherkins) became so costly, they were substituted with local food items (pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro and sliced hot chiles, to name a few). Obviously, as we have seen with the popularity of Tulsa’s Lone Wolf Banh Mi Truck, ingredients can be substituted to give the classic an update—traditional or not, I love Lone Wolf ’s version with kung pao pork.
The name—as well as some of the ingredients—may sound exotic, but the banh mi is actually quite simple to make at home. I like to marinate and grill or roast my own pork, lamb or chicken, and pickle my veggies, but feel free to purchase prepared items at your favorite Asian market.
GET IT LOCAL
The classic Banh Mi Thit Nuong (“sandwich with grilled meat”) includes a smear of pâté and a hearty layer of sliced meat (usually roast pork), as well as a topping of crisp, lightly pickled vegetables and fresh cilantro. It may be simple in its origin, but the flavors are addictive. I remember my first banh mi in New York City, and I am not surprised that the humble sandwich took off. Luckily, there are a few spots here in town to sample the ultimate “fast food” of Vietnam.
• Lone Wolf Banh Mi Truck may be looking for a permanent place to set some roots, but the popular food truck can be found most nights parked in front of The Fur Shop downtown and at Guthrie Green for Food Truck Wednesday. Check Lone Wolf ’s Twitter and Facebook pages for the most current location updates. The Fur Shop: 520 E. 3rd St. Guthrie Green: 111 E. M.B. Brady Street.
• The relatively new Pho V-Nam in south Tulsa makes a sound version which pairs nicely with their housemade Pho or Bun Cha Gio salad. 8122 S. Harvard; 918.574.2888
• Que Huong Oriental Market sells their authentic version only on Fridays … get there early (around 11:30am), for they usually sell out quickly. 11320 E. 21st St.; 918.437.3022