January 19, 2009

Banh Mi

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homemade roast chicken banh mi

I went to the Vietnamese shopping center (a 3o+ minute drive) to look for plastic mooncake mold/press and to eat banh mi. Although there are several superb Vietnamese restaurants in and around my city, incredibly not one of them sells these sandwiches. I did not find the molds I wanted but was able to eat an 8-inch banh mi filled with Vietnamese ham, liver pate, and the usual pickled vegetables and trimmings. The sandwich was so delicious and I love the bread's crackly crisp crust and soft airy crumbs. I ate the whole thing before I realized I didn't take a single photo. I could get addicted to this sandwich that has all the flavors that we as Asians love: salty (fish sauce), sweet, spicy.

Yesterday I baked some Vietnamese style mini baguettes. I followed a recipe I found online. They don't look as pretty and they are not as airy as the restaurant's. I have to change something either with the ingredients or in the procedure. I also have to score the unbaked bread just on the surface and not as deep as in regular French baguette because the breads spread so much. They were very crisp though and the crumb very soft. I could buy the bread from the numerous bakeries at the center but they should be eaten the same day they are baked or the crust would lose its super crispiness which I think is what makes this sandwich so good.

Vietnamese Mini Baguettes

1 cup rice flour
1 cup pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups hot water, about 120°F
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1½ teaspoons sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
4 cups all purpose flour

  • Mix the rice flour, pastry flour, instant yeast, and baking powder in a bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add the hot water and stir for 30 seconds. Add sugar and salt and mix for 1 minute. Cover with plastic film and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Remove plastic film and add 2 cups of flour, mix on low for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the flour, half cup at a time and mix on low for 2 minutes. Remove paddle and replace with dough hook. Knead on medium speed for 3 minutes. Cover with plastic and leave to rest for 30 minutes. Knead again for 2 minutes on low speed. Transfer into a bowl, cover with plastic film and let rise for 1 and a half hour, or until double in bulk.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, it will deflate by itself. Cut the dough in half, and then cut each half into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, and flatten a little. Cover the dough balls with plastic film and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Flatten the balls into a 6 inch oval with the palms of your hands. Deflate any gas bubbles in the dough by pinching them. Fold the dough in half lengthwise by bringing the far edge down over the near edge. Flatten the dough again into an oval with the palms of your hands. Press a trench along the central length of the oval with the side of one hand. Fold in half again lengthwise. This time seal the edges together with the heel of one hand, and roll the dough so the seal is on the bottom. Roll the dough back and forth with the palms of your hands into an 8 inch long roll. Place the rolls, seam side down, 1 ½ inches apart, on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat. Cover with plastic film and let rise for 1 to 2 hours or until double in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 425F. Slash the dough by running a razor blade or a sharp knife along the length of the baguette. Bake the bread for 20 to 25 minutes or until crust is golden in color, rotating the baking sheets after 10 minutes. Cool on a rack before serving. Best eaten the same day it’s baked.
Note: The above is not the recipe I used for the mini baguettes, I made adjustments to the original to adapt to my kitchen temperature and humidity and the type of flour I use.

Next post: Vietnamese roasted or grilled chicken

Vietnamese style roast chicken with lemongrass, shallots,
garlic, sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce


What's Cookin Chicago said...

Mmm - Banh Mi is such a great type of sandwich. The Vietnamese flavors really make it a dish and the bread is also key. This look delicious and I'd love to try my hand at making it at home. I normally just drive a few blocks to pick up sandwiches because I can get lazy - lol!

Sidney said...

Hmmmm...once again I am salivating !

Oggi said...

Joelen, it's too bad we live far from the nearest Vietnamese bakeshop and sandwich shop, otherwise I might go there for lunch everyday.:)

Sidney, you're back! Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

ooh rice flour baguettes. definitely the ideal bread for banh mi.

 gmirage said...

Oggi how did you grill that yummy looking chicken? I've recently developed a love for lemongrass on chicken! Ambango!

Oggi said...

Jude, the rice flour makes extra crunchy crust but very soft crumbs.

Gizelle, I combined finely chopped lemongrass, minced garlic, patis, brown sugar, shallots, and a little soy sauce for color. I brined the chicken first in water, salt, sugar, and patis for 2 hours, spread half of the seasoning paste then I broiled/baked it in 400 degree oven for about 1 and a half hour. Half way through I spread the other half of the paste and baked until skin is dark brown and a little crispy. I forgot to post the recipe for the chicken.:)

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