My favorite two kinds of sandwiches are Banh Mi and eggplant parmesan. My friend Brenda and I used to cook up eggplant parm subs from scratch back in New York in the early 2000′s, but that was when I was in my early 20s and could spend four hours to make the fixings for a hot sandwich. I learned that eggplant parmesan is time-consumptive but very hard to mess up, which is a recipe for buying it from a sub shop.
Banh Mi on the other hand is very easy to make AND hard to find store-bought. For this of you who have never had Banh mi, first of all, that is crazy sad. Second of all, they’re a Vietnamese sandwich that is different combinations of delicious hot meat or pate, pickled veggies, fresh veggies, mayo, served on soft baguette. To learn more about Banh Mi, you can go to this great site passionately devoted to the sandwich: http://battleofthebanhmi.com.
As I have said before, I love cooking but do it once every nine weeks. My kitchen is basically a storage unit for pretty placemats I bought, and where I put find my weird trendy vitamins. That said, these days I have started making sandwiches more and more in my kitchen, and banh mi I’ve had more than once.
The way I make banh mi is buy chopping up the fresh vegetables and spices I need on a Sunday, then keeping them in plastic tupperware for the week, so I can just grab ingredients and toss them on the sandwich like it’s Subway. Those ingredients are:
• Sliced cucumber (I love cucumber. It wins the prize of Single Easiest Vegetable to Deal With, doesn’t it? So easy to slice and prepare.)
• Chopped cilantro (a controversial herb nearly every person close to me hates and thinks tastes like soap. But not me! And this is my sandwich! Bring it on!)
• A bottle of Sriracha (an Asian hot sauce that they sell basically everywhere, don’t stress about this. You will find it at Stop & Shop.)
• A jar of plain old mayonnaise (don’t get fancy with it)
• A loaf of soft baguette
• A fresh rotisserie chicken from say, Whole Foods or your local supermarket, torn into pieces like a junkyard dog (keep the skin, for gods sake)
I assembled the sandwich with proportions to my liking, and then add torn-up rotisserie chicken and Sriracha. For some reason the sandwich tests best if you wrap it up in aluminum foil and let the hot chicken meat sit in the other ingredients. If you’re making leftovers, I leave all the ingredients cold except the chicken which I heat up for 30 seconds in the microwave. This is great for get-togethers for sporting events, and for picnic baskets, Yogi Bear.
Then I grab a Diet Coke from my fridge, sit in front of my TV watching Extreme Home Makeover, and cry, cry, cry.
For: People who want to save money, people who want to feel like chefs, and people who like eating delicious ethnic food that’s not too greasy.