|Alternative names||Vietnamese bread|
|Place of origin||Vietnam / French Indochina|
|Cookbook: Bánh mì Media: Bánh mì|
Bánh mì (/ / or / /; Vietnamese pronunciation: [ɓǎɲ mî]) is the Vietnamese word for bread. Bread, or more specifically the baguette, was introduced by the French during the colonial period in Vietnam. The bread most commonly found in Vietnamese cuisine is a single-serving baguette that is usually airier than its Western counterpart, with a thinner crust. Unlike the traditional French baguette, the Vietnamese baguette is made with rice flour along with wheat flour (see rice bread).
In Vietnamese cuisine, bánh mì is typically made into a sandwich known as bánh mì kẹp or bánh mì Sài Gòn, eaten alongside dishes such as bò kho (a beef stew) and phá lấu, or dipped in condensed milk (see Sữa Ông Thọ). In the Western Hemisphere, especially in areas with substantial Vietnamese expatriate communities, the term bánh mì is used as a synecdoche for the sandwich, which is sold in Vietnamese bakeries.
In Vietnamese, the word bánh mì is derived from bánh (which can refer to many kinds of food, including bread) and mì (wheat). It may also be spelled bánh mỳ in northern Vietnam. The word is likely derived from the French "pain de mie" meaning soft, white bread. Taken alone, bánh mì means "bread" but is understood to be the Vietnamese baguette. It may also refer to a sandwich (bánh mì kẹp being a more specific word), particularly the sandwiches made on Vietnamese baguettes. These sandwiches are called bánh mì Sài Gòn after the city in which they were popularized. However, even in Vietnam, "a bánh mì for breakfast" implies a meat-filled sandwich for breakfast, not just bread.
The Vietnamese sandwich, sometimes called a "bánh mì sandwich", is a product of French colonialism in Indochina, combining ingredients from the French (baguettes, pâté, jalapeño, and mayonnaise) with native Vietnamese ingredients, such as coriander, cucumber, and pickled carrots and daikon. By the 1950s, it was sold in its modern form by street vendors in Vietnam. Vietnamese communities in France began selling it in the 1950s as well.
After the Fall of Saigon in 1975, Vietnamese Americans brought bánh mì sandwiches to cities across the United States, where it was sometimes likened to local sandwiches. In New Orleans, a Vietnamese sandwich is sometimes known as a "Vietnamese po' boy". For example, a bánh mì recipe won the 2009 award for best po' boy at the city's annual po' boy festival. A restaurant in Philadelphia also sells a similar sandwich, marketed as a "Vietnamese hoagie". In Northern California, Lê Văn Bá and his sons are credited with popularizing bánh mì among Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese Americans alike through their food truck services provider and their fast food chain, Lee's Sandwiches, beginning in the 1980s.
A bánh mì sandwich typically consists of one or more meats, accompanying vegetables, and condiments. Common fillings include steamed, pan-roasted or oven-roasted seasoned pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, grilled pork, grilled pork patties, spreadable pork liver pâté, pork floss, grilled chicken, chicken floss, canned sardines in tomato sauce, soft pork meatballs in tomato sauce (xíu mại), head cheese, fried eggs, mock duck, and tofu. Accompanying vegetables typically include fresh cucumber slices, cilantro (leaves of the coriander plant) and pickled carrots and white radishes in shredded form. Common condiments include spicy chili sauce, sliced chilis, Maggi seasoning sauce, mayonnaise, and cheese.
The most popular variety of Vietnamese sandwich is bánh mì thịt, thịt meaning "meat". Bánh mì thịt nguội (also known as bánh mì pâté chả thịt, bánh mì đặc biệt, or "special combo") is made with various Vietnamese cold cuts, such as sliced pork or pork belly, chả lụa (pork sausage), and head cheese, along with the liver pâté and vegetables like carrot or cucumbers.
Other varieties include:
- Bánh mì bì (shredded pork sandwich) – shredded pork or pork skin, doused with fish sauce
- Bánh mì chà bông (pork floss sandwich)
- Bánh mì xíu mại (minced pork meatball sandwich) – smashed pork meatballs
- Bánh mì cá mòi (sardine sandwich)
- Bánh mì pa-tê (pâté sandwich)
- Bánh mì xá xíu or bánh mì thịt nướng (barbecue pork sandwich)
- Bánh mì chả lụa or bánh mì giò lụa (pork sausage sandwich)
- Bánh mì gà nướng (grilled chicken sandwich)
- Bánh mì chay (vegetarian sandwich) – made with tofu or seitan; in Vietnam, usually made at Buddhist temples during special religious events, but uncommon on the streets
- Bánh mì chả cá (fish patty sandwich)
- Bánh mì bơ (margarine sandwich) – margarine and sugar
- Bánh mì trứng ốp-la (fried egg sandwich) – contains fried eggs with onions, sprinkled with soy sauce, sometimes buttered; served for breakfast in Vietnam
- Bánh mì kẹp kem (ice cream sandwich) – contains scoops of ice cream topped with crushed peanuts
Bánh mì xíu mại (minced pork meatball sandwich)
In regions of the United States with significant populations of Vietnamese Americans, numerous bakeries and fast food restaurants specialize in bánh mì. Lee's Sandwiches, a fast food chain with locations in several states, specializes in Vietnamese sandwiches served on French baguettes (or traditional bánh mì at some locations) as well as Western-style sandwiches served on croissants. In New Orleans, Dong Phuong Oriental Bakery is known for the bánh mì bread that it distributes to restaurants throughout the city. After 1975, Ba Lẹ owner Võ Văn Lẹ fled to the United States to found (along with Lâm Quốc Thanh) Bánh mì Ba Lê. The Eden Center shopping center in Northern Virginia has several well-known bakeries specializing in bánh mì.
Mainstream U.S. fast food companies have also attempted to incorporate bánh mì and other Vietnamese dishes into their portfolios. Yum! Brands operates a chain of bánh mì cafés called Bánh Shop. The former Chipotle-owned ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen chain briefly sold bánh mì.
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