Hurray! Camera fixed, thanks to clever husband.
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can buy a formidable banh mi for $3, which is cheaper than making one at home. BUT. It was still interesting and instructive to assemble one for myself.
I went to Clement Street in S.F. for the ingredients, using Andrea Nguyen's recipe as my guide, starting with puffy Vietnamese-style French bread.
It's not the greatest bread -- the interior is like cotton -- but supposedly that's the idea.
I also bought a pound of yummy barbecued pork
and some cha lua sausage.
Do you see the little "Keep Refrigerated" warning? Well, it wasn't. It was on a shelf near the cash register. I pondered this for a while, then put the sausage in my cart anyway.
And I bought a daikon radish that looks like something out of Dune
and cilantro, serrano peppers, cucumber.
At home, I cut up the daikon and put it into brine with some carrots.
Then I sat down to read, and fell dead asleep for six hours. Jet lag. When I woke up: dinner time.
To make the sandwiches, I spread lots of mayonnaise on the bread, sprinkled with soy sauce, heaped with the pickles, cilantro, hot peppers, and sliced cucumber. Meat presented a dilemma. I sliced the cha lua, which was pink and finely textured, like bologna and smelled fine, despite improper storage at the Richmond New May Wah market. I thought: does my schedule over the next few days allow for food poisoning? And yes! It does. But I really hate to throw up, it's almost a phobia. No, it IS a phobia. I gave the $2.99 log of cha lua to the chickens, who scarfed it down. They are all alive and pecking today, so I guess it was okay.
I any case, I used only barbecued pork in the sandwiches, and they were fantastic. The sine qua non of the Vietnamese sandwich is not the meat. You could use almost anything -- leftover roast chicken, steak, duck, pork belly, even lamb, probably fish. It's the crunchy, spicy pickled vegetables and fresh herbs that make a banh mi a banh mi.