Bánh Mì might be the earliest example of French Asian fusion, and, we’d argue, one of the very best. We won’t try to claim that the French colonization of Vietnam was a match made in heaven, but from the perspective of culinary syncretism, it was a perfect marriage indeed.
During their rather unwelcome stay, the French introduced wheat bread (the literal translation of bánh mì) in the form of the baguette, along with European-style charcuterie. Combine this with Vietnamese cuisine’s predilection for bright acidity, vibrant herbs, and raw vegetables, and the result seems like a foregone conclusion.
Thus, a classic was born: crusty bread and rich meat counterbalanced with tangy, crunchy vegetables, floral cilantro, and a touch of heat. While the most classic version of the sandwich features liver pâté alongside an assortment of Vietnamese cured meats, variations abound, from grilled chicken to meatballs.
The choice to use pork belly is purely a reflection of our fondness for this particular portion of swine, and how it shines (shwines?) when cooked sous vide. In this case, a 16-hour cook at 70ºC yields belly that is meltingly tender yet still sliceable, the perfect textural foil for our sandwich.
Those of you who’ve been paying close attention might note that this isn’t our first time tackling pork belly bánh mì. If you’re asking yourself why we’d revisit this subject, we can only assume you’ve never experienced this marvel of sandwichdom for yourself. We strongly encourage you to rectify that A.S.A.P.
Get the full recipe for this pinnacle of sandwich goodness right here.