Bánh Mì

In the Western Hemisphere, especially in areas with substantial Vietnamese expatriate communities, the term is used to refer to a type of meat-filled sandwich on bánh mì bread, found in Vietnamese bakeries. Unlike the traditional French baguette, the Vietnamese baguette is made with rice flour along with wheat flour.  Typical 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, 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 daikon in shredded form.  Common condiments include spicy chili sauce, sliced chilis, mayonnaise, and cheese.

In the Vietnamese language, these sandwiches would be referred to as e.g. bánh mì xíu mại for a baguette with crushed pork meatball, bánh mì pâté chả thịt for a baguette or sandwich with pâté, Vietnamese sausage and meat, usually pork bellies, since it is the most common kind of meat.  Almost all of these varieties are innovations made by or introduced in Saigon and they are known as bánh mì Sài Gòn (“Saigon-Style” banh mi); the most popular form is bánh mì thịt (thịt means “meat”).  However, even in Vietnam, “a bánh mì for breakfast” implies a meat-filled sandwich for breakfast, not just bread.

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