129: Banh Mi-Style Sandwiches

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I don’t care much for sandwiches. I don’t like bread enough to really want a sandwich very often, and I’ve had too many sandwiches made on boring bread. Most sandwiches have cheese, which I don’t like, or are loaded with condiments. I believe that if a sandwich is good, you shouldn’t need a whole bunch of stuff to dress it up. By the time you leave everything that I don’t like off of a “typical” American sandwich, you basically have some meat, lettuce, and tomato. This is fine if the meat’s particularly tasty, but most sandwiches are dry without all this other stuff.

I could make sandwiches myself, and sometimes I do. I’ve discovered avocado on sandwiches, which is excellent. I like BLTs, and once I made a great sandwich with leftover beef and hummus. Overall, though, I’d rather spend my time prepping ingredients for a hot meal that I’d really enjoy. You also can’t make sandwiches in advance very easily, because they’ll get soggy from tomato (or condiments you put on). You probably should refrigerate them to make sure your ingredients don’t spoil, but then you’re stuck with cold bread. Eck.

That said, I had the best sandwich ever when I visited Vietnam years ago. Perhaps it was the fresh air in part that made it taste so darn good, or maybe it was that they didn’t try to put anything on it that I didn’t like. In any case, the banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) that I ate made me realize that sandwiches could actually be delicious. Strangely enough, though, I’ve never tried one in the 8 years since I had the original.

Thus I made Banh Mi-Style Roast Beef Sandwiches. We were short on time when we went grocery shopping and rushed through the store, so Alex ended up picking up a longer, multi-grain baguette. Oops. Also, I made this the day after the date listed on the bread. Oops. I thinly sliced some tiny radishes that I somehow managed to grow, as well as some regular carrots. I diced the jalapeno since we’re not used to eating it, and I didn’t want big bites of it.  While I seared the steak (in a too hot kitchen – ugh), I mixed together soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. I substituted soy sauce for the fish sauce because my one experience cooking with fish sauce made me ban it from my kitchen. I misread the recipe, so rather than just add a tablespoon of sauce, I dumped all of the sauce over the jalapeno, carrots, and radishes. I had to strain the veggies to pour the rest of the sauce over the steak after I sliced it.

Banh Mi Style Beef Sandwiches

My assembly technique wasn’t the best. I cut the bread into quarters before I assembled the sandwich (oops), and didn’t completely separate the top and bottom, so that all the beef was in the crease and the veggies and cilantro were on top. At least they’re colorful!

This was okay. The bread was dry, probably because there was a little too much of it and it was a day old. That’s my fault. The flavor of the recipe was good. I think that overall it needed more veggies on it. Overall, I guess I’d say that this isn’t anything too special. I did enjoy putting carrots on a sandwich, though.

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