A Saigon Sub Kick

I don’t know why it is, but lately I’ve been on a major Saigon Sub kick. Also known as Bánh Mì, this Vietnamese-French fusion sandwich is so refreshingly healthy and delicious, with multiple layers of ingredients that each contribute an interesting and complimentary contrast of flavors and textures. If you’ve never had a Bánh Mì sandwich before, you need to get to your nearest Vietnamese restaurant and try it. Good, good stuff! So good that I now got my mother and aunt hooked on it.

Every Saturday morning I do my usual song and dance, hitting up the KCC Farmers’ Market where I can find just about all the necessary ingredients to make it at unbeatable prices. First of all I make sure I’ve got its two key components: fresh-baked Bánh Mì Parisian baguettes and Do Chua, which are those Vietnamese style pickled julienned Daikon and Carrots. The place to get these are from the Ba-Le Bakery booth, where a bag of four Bánh Mì French baguette rolls costs just $2 and a 12 oz. container of the Do Chua is just $3. Cheap!

And Ba-Le’s Bánh Mì French baguette rolls are by far the best. They’re baked fresh and have that very desirable crunchy crust on the outside, with just the right balance of glutenous chew on the inside, while being supple and well balanced in density and porosity.The only problem I find with these French Rolls is they mold quickly when left out on the counter. Like after about three days. So after two days, I already put them in the refrigerator, to which they keep pretty good for about a week. Of course fresh is best though.

As for the Do Chua, I just checked the Aina Haina Foodland, and they don’t carry it. Not sure about Safeway, although I’m sure Don Quijote has it. Otherwise, just get it from Ba-Le. Theirs tastes great. In fact, sometimes I eat just the Do Chua by itself!

Being at a Farmers’ Market, of course you’re going to get all the necessary vegetables and herbs to make your Saigon Sub from there, including Thai Basil, Mint and Cilantro (Chinese Parsley), where you can buy a big bunch for just $1 each. Try buying those same herbs in the supermarket and you’re looking at easily three or more times that price. Or of course, just grow them yourself! I might start doing that.

Cucumber is another common ingredient in Bánh Mì, to which I buy the Japanese Cucumber, as it has less seeds and an overall better flavor in this application. Japanese Cucumbers are usually about $1.50/lb. at KCC Farmers’ Market. Chili Peppers are another basic ingredient in a Saigon Sub, but I’m not one for “heat” in my sandwich and omit it, but hey, if you like it hot, knock yourself out.

The only other key ingredients needed for this Vietnamese-French fusion sandwich are the “fats”, which would be the mayonnaise and choice of meat, to which I buy them from either Costco or the supermarket. Best Foods (a.k.a. Hellman’s) brand for the mayo’ of course, and for the meats, I simply get whatever cold cuts I’m in the mood for. You can use roast beef, smoked ham, turkey, whatever.

Really, like most sandwiches, a Saigon Sub is rather flexible, as long as you have the two key ingredients: the Bánh Mì French Roll and the Do Chua Vietnamese pickled daikon and carrots. From there you can experiment with all kinds of proteins, vegetables, herbs and whatever else you think might work.

I’ve already done a Kiawe-Smoked Pastrami Bánh Mì sandwich which turned out pretty darned delicious…

Check out how I made my Kiawe-Smoked Pastrami Bánh Mì sandwich here, and how I made Backyard Kiawe-Smoked Pastrami here.

Future Saigon Sub experiments for me will include a spin on the classic BLT, Grilled Cheese, Tonkatsu, “Tonkrazy”, baked salmon and either Ahi Poke or tuna tartar.

P.S. Here’s a shot of Maunalua Bay Beach Park from Kuli’ou’ou Beach Park, where you see everyone setting up tents for a front-row, ocean-front vantage point of last night’s grand Fireworks Display over Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai…

Same thing at Kuli’ou’ou Beach Park…

It got much more crowded than that right before the 8pm show.

No man is an island… not even in Maunalua Bay when the tide is low…

The fireworks display over Maunalua Bay last night on July 4th, 2010 was quite a spectacle. It began at exactly 8pm and carried on without a hitch until exactly 8:21pm, lasting longer than the 17-minute duration they said it would be on the news. Steady bursts of all the usual shells were there, including the palm, round, ring, willow, roundel, chrysanthemum, pistil, maroon and serpentine. (check out that link for a really cool interactive explanation on that!). The grand finale was of course rapid and highly explosive and seemed to last longer than the seconds it took to complete launching every last shell. Kudos to the folks who set-up this year’s Maunalua Bay fireworks display. Great job! Maika’i!

The music for the Maunalua Bay Fireworks Show was provided by Hawaiian KINE 105.1 FM.

Surprisingly there were very little illegal aerials being launched in the area either before or after the show, compared to last New Years eve, when the skies over Hawaii Kai had more bombs bursting in the air than two of these 4th of July Fireworks displays combined!And this is Hawaii Kai. Imagine Kalihi  and Ewa Beach, where I heard it was like a war zone.

Speaking of which, as I was driving back home towards town from Hawaii Kai after the show (100% sober of course), around 9:30pm about five fire units and every police squad car in the area went racing by, sirens blaring, heading east. Turns out there was a substantial brush fire atop Kalama Valley that threatened nearby homes.  Although they have yet to determine how it was started, it doesn’t look good to have happened on fireworks night.

Lastly, speaking of Saigon Kick, remember that late 80’s/early 90’s band? Here’s their hit single, ‘Love is on the way’…


19 thoughts on “A Saigon Sub Kick

  1. Thanks for all the recent posts.   Do you put pate on your banh mi?  There was a banh mi shop here in Seattle that did a two egg over easy banh mi with pate.  Good stuff.  I was just in Honolulu and tried Blvd Snack after reading your recs.  Liked the food and convenient. 

  2. Pomai,
    Mom like fishcake banh the most while I prefer roast pork with fancy pork in it.  I like making it at home at time.

  3. Love pâté in mine.  And you have no mention of chili peppers! To me it’s essential.

    The link to your  Pastrami Bánh Mì doesn’t seem to be working.

  4. Nate, I mentioned chili peppers in the paragraph regarding cucumbers after the third Banh Mi photo. I also fixed that broken link to the Pastrami Banh Mi. I’ll certainly have to try it with Pate. Maybe I can take some home from BLT Steak!
    Amy, now you have me brainstorming a “Saimin Saigon Sub”! I’m thinkin’ some virmicelli noodles in the bun, along with chinese charsiu, green onion, cilantro and kamaboko, along with a condensed dashi sauce.
    kobi, two eggs over easy with pate sounds like too much protein for me; especially the combination of liver and raw egg yolks, yet I won’t knock it ’til I try it! Glad to hear Blvd Snack turned out good for you. Truly a hole-in-the-wall hidden treasure.

  5. pomai! the viet banh mi–you basically nailed it with the essential roll & veggies.  some folks like pate on it.  some also like a dash of soy sauce and some kewpie mayo (umami explosion!).  i def like mine with sliced jalapenos.  and you’re right…the protein part is whatever you want! glad you like the banh mi–they’re cheap, filling, and super tasty!

  6. Looks good!  On the two ocassions I had a bahn mi, it had pate in it. Was very good. I thought that some Oscar Mayer liverwurst would also work for my fairly “flexible” palate!   Thanks for the great post!

  7. No forget the Maggi for mix in your mayo!  I hear that’s the secret to the spread for Bahn Mi.  Maggi is Asian-style seasoning sauce but ah, u know that!

  8. I’ll admit I haven’t made my own scratch Bahn Mi… with the homemade pastrami, I’d have to just lock the doors and take the phone off the hook… sounds fantastic. I’ve always just let the good folks at Ba-Le make mine for me… they’re delicious and faster than any “fast food” restaurant. I got hooked on ’em a few years back when I was working on the first Benoit Jazzworks album, we were ALL eating them. Poor studio manager had those little Ba-le bread crumbs all over the carpet! 😉

  9. brah…da pastrami looked ono….but da oddah samiches looked like all bread and manini stuffs inside! Buggah looks like one manapua  with small kine char-siu!

  10. Debra… I’d bet that “Seitan O’ Greatness”… the baked seitan recipe that’s all over the web… sliced thin, would be a great vegetarian Bahn Mi filler. It would probably come pretty close to a pastrami-type thing once all the other fillings were in there.

  11. Chili pepper give spices to it, fried tofu wow if someday ill be the best chef i rather connected in your blog site, the recipe and the picture show it all for summer and guest this one taste and look even better.

  12. I’m also a huge fan of Vietnamese sandwiches.  The crispy pickle mixed with the fresh herbs and hot sauce is so refreshing.  I also love eating Bánh Mì with a spread of pate!

  13. Pomai, I make my own pickle mix veg. for banh and pate too.  Found recipe for fancy pork and roast pork and head cheese online for sandwich which work great .  I do like fishcake banh very much also.

  14. Patty, I checked Don Quijote, and surprisingly they didn’t have the Do Chua. They have choke Japanese Tsukemono, but no Vietnamese Do Chua, nor do they have the Banh Mi French Baguette rolls. I did see the Banh Mi rolls in the Aina Haina Foodland though. Hopefully when Ba-Le finishes their new factory in Iwilei they’ll start distributing this stuff to the local supermarkets. They’d BANK on that stuff, especially if they can acquire a Costco account.
    Migration Mark, your website and travels are AMAZING! You have a most excellent life, sir!
    Raph’, instead of Maggi sauce, I use shoyu, particularly the Silver Swan brand from the Philippines, which tastes kinda’ “meaty”. Good stuff!
    puukoa, I’m not a chili pepper fan or hot things in general, save for perhaps a kick of wasabi here or Coleman’s mustard there, along with some good Kim Chee.
    Marcus, this “Seitan O’ Greatness” recipe looks very interesting, and healthy at that!
    Debra,  speaking of Pastrami and Tofu, Bob’s Barr-B-Q in Kaneohe does a smoked Tofu, although the reviews on Yelp about it aren’t very good.
    Kelly, would be you to notice that. Too funny. lol
    Marcus, wow, Benoit Jazzworks eh? Speaking of which, I just heard a new release from Stanley Clarke aired yesterday on KORL Smooth Jazz. Kinda’ funky, but not as funky as I like. I’m a big fan of  Level 42’s Mark King with his heavy bass slapping style and great vocals.
    Poppa C, as I mentioned previously, I use the Silver Swan soy sauce from the Philippines. It’s got the “umami” goin’ on!
    Alan, sounds like Pate goes really well in this sandwich. I’ll have to try it. I’m not a liver fan, but I did enjoy the Pate at BLT Steak, which I can definitely see working well in a Banh Mi sandwich.
    Raph’, oh, there ya’ go, Kewpie Mayo’! Now that’s some rich stuff! Good stuff! That’s definitely the mayo’ of choice for the perfect California Sushi Roll. I’ll definitely give that a try on my next Banh Mi!

  15. Yay! We are so happy that you enjoy our bread and pickled vegetables. If you prefer convenience, please stop by one of our  Ba-Le Sandwiches locations and grab a banh-mi to go. Also, check out the following for new products, farmers market dates, and special deals.
    Blog: http://latourbakehouse.wordpress.com/
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Honolulu-HI/La-Tour-Bakehouse/136563483042498
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaTourBakehouse
    (We are relaunching under the name La Tour Bakery.)
    Thanks for the shout out!

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