Bánh Mì with Pâté

Banh Mi

Having never made pate before, I didn’t realize just how long it takes to get through an entire terrine of pate. As delicious as it was, a few days of eating it spread on crackers and bread wore off most of its charm. Thats about the time that I start turning the leftovers into other dishes. The other day I used the pate as a stand-in for ham in my leftover eggs benedict. At lunch today, I had a hankering for bánh mì and was about to head out to Baoguette when I realized I had almost all the fixin’s to make my own Vietnamese sandwich at home.

In the US, the humble bánh mì has been enjoying a bit of a renaissance, with small hole-in-the-wall joints cranking out the delicious cheap Vietnamese sandwiches. For me, bánh mì will always be synonymous with the $1.50 sandwiches, that came in a whole, freshly baked baguette from the Blossom Hill neighborhood of San Jose. If you got one at the right time, the bread would still be warm, and where else could you get such a well balanced meal for such a pittance.

While I’m sure that value had a big hand in its success, that doesn’t explain the up-scale places dishing out bánh mì’s in excess of $10. So what is it about bánh mì that’s so appealing? Is it the snap that comes from the crispy crust as you bite into it? Is it the sweet and sour carrot and daikon pickles? Perhaps it’s the palette tingling heat coming from the jalapeno peppers, or the cooling crunch from the cucumbers? Maybe it’s the wacky collection pates, head-cheeses, and grilled meats that are used? I’m sure everyone has their own reasons for loving bánh mì, but for me, it’s all of the above. The way each ingredient comes together to make a savory, sweet, tart, spicy, crunchy, crispy yet balanced sandwich is just magical.

Banh Mi

When I was in Vietnam last month, I quickly learned that asking for a bánh mì will get you a baguette with nothing on it. That’s because bánh mì just means bread in Vietnamese. More specifically, a Vietnamese baguette made from a combination of rice and wheat flour. It’s a holdover from the days of French colonial occupation, and while it may look like a baguette on the outside, it’s lighter and more crisp than a French baguette.

Bánh Mì

Shred equal parts carrot and daikon radish into a bowl and sprinkle with salt. The salt helps the vegetables release some of their water making them less crisp but more crunchy. Given the salted veggies a massage will speed up the release of water. When the veggies are limp, use your hands to squeeze out as much water as you can. Taste the pickles, if they are too salt, rinse them once with water then squeeze them again. Cover the veggies with 4 parts rice vinegar to 1 part fish sauce and 1 part sugar.

To make the sandwich, just toast a whole banh mi until it’s crispy on the outside. If you can’t find the banh mi rolls, I’ve found that hero rolls (i.e. cheap baguettes) work pretty well. Cut the banh mi open on one side, but leave the other side sealed with crust. Use a spoon to hollow out some of the bread from the middle, to hold the filling. Then add you meat(s), pate, sliced cucumber, pickled daikon and carrot, jalepenos, cilantro and hot sauce.

  • http://twitter.com/RosasYummyYums Rosa May

    What a great idea! That Pâté Bahn Mi is fabulous.



  • http://twitter.com/StephRussell26 Stephanie Russell

    Nom. God I love pate. It’s making my mouth water just looking at that thick layer you’ve got slathered on that banh mi. :-)But, I also love the sandwich in its entirety, too. It’s all about the combination of textures and flavors and the wonderful things that happen in your mouth when you take a bite! Yum.

  • http://www.sitesnbites.com Jen

    I wish the banh mi always looked liked this from the local banh mi carts. Looking forward to reading more entries of your trip to Vietnam, my current location!

  • http://www.thedishandthedirt.com Dina @ The Dish and The Dirt

    This looks incredible. My mom used to bring these home for me after school when I was little; I would always take the peppers out, but of course now I leave them in. Sadly, the banh mi is now going for the exorbitant price of $2.50 here in San Francisco!

  • http://twitter.com/asian_homecook Tina T.

    “The way each ingredient comes together to make a savory, sweet, tart, spicy, crunchy, crispy yet balanced sandwich is just magical. ” This is so nicely put! I love Banh Mi. Here in Mpls it’s $2.5!

  • http://twitter.com/Burp_Blog Lori Fredrich

    I’m with you when it comes to getting through an entire batch of pate. No matter how good it is, it sure does get wearisome! But, nice call with the banh mi… last time we made ours, we used Chinese bbq pork, but I love the idea of using pate. You’ve given me an insatiable craving.

  • http://cognitiveleeks.wordpress.com Christine

    How is it working with that curry flavor?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      It’s great! I think the pate used for banh mi usually has some cumin in it.

  • Anh Truong

    Alas, Marc, the $1.50 banh mi sandwich is now a shocking $3 in SJ, though Saigon Bakery still has the 3 for 2 special. I don’t quite understand a banh mi that’s over $5 when the ingredients barely total $1. As for the bread, a good substitute on the East Coast is a Portuguese roll which was what my mother used when we lived in Connecticut and the closest banh mi shop (i.e. cart) was in Boston.

  • http://www.anhsfoodblog.com/ anh

    wonderful stuff. This is sort of what I grew up with :)

    oh, about the language – Bánh Mì Pâté is how the Vietnamese call this dish! I have the recipe for pork pate somewhere but won’t try since we don’t eat pork in my family anymore….

  • http://smalltownoven.wordpress.com/ Sharlene

    I’ve never tried banh mi but Vietnamese cuisine is one of our favorites. I’m sure it wouldn’t disappoint.

  • Rod Roth

    gonna be a great lunch after my trip to the farmer’s market tomorrow!

  • http://weareneverfull.com Jonny

    as someone commented on our blog recently questioning something we had said about leftover wine, so I raised an eyebrow at the idea of leftover pate because it’s never happened yet. That said, if it ever does, home-making banh mi will be high on the list. it’s everything combined that makes them so awesome, isn’t it? crispy, soft, smooth, crunchy, salty, spicy. i’m drooling. (Incidentally, if you ever have too many leftovers it’s worth knowing that pate does freeze quite well – i made two rabbit and pork terrines back in the fall, and the second came out recently and was remarkably unscathed.)

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Good to know, I’ll have to try that next time!

  • JK

    Amen to the $1.50 (or < $3 for inflation to today) banh mi's being the best!

  • http://baconandrhubarb.blogspot.com Rachel (S[d]OC)

    I have definitely jumped on the bahn mi bandwagon. I found a place near my part-time office that I have become addicted to recently. Too bad they don’t come cheap as in those $1.50 sandwiches you mentioned.

    If you get tired of all of that homemade pate, you can always send some my way. 😉

  • http://www.cheapflightstoaucklanduk.co.uk book cheap flights to auckland

    Delicious! will definitely try it. Thanks

  • Nipponnin

    Looks gorgeous! I posted banh mi sandwich with meat ball style in my blog too. I want to know more about your trip to Vietnam. I wish you posted the photos of the trip at same time.

  • Thongsy

    Might have to try this. They cost $6+ up here in Anchorage. It used to be a weekly thing back when I was living in California but a 400% increase in price is too much.

  • http://www.travelcenteruk.co.uk cheap flights to nairobi

    Thank you mate for the post, very delicious.

  • Tinytearoom

    Banh Mi thit must be the healthiest fast food. I love it so much and don’t feel guilty about consuming an entire roll in less than 5 minutes. I can’t believe I confessed that!

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