Vietnamese po’ boy for an American po’ girl? Why yes, yes, I think so. Apparently, I just can’t get away from that Vietnamese food. New Orleans’ street food has just made too much of a stamp on me. It was a week night and I was trying to use up ingredients from the fridge. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. What I had on hand…cilantro, red onion, cucumbers, carrots, and white bread. A lighter version of banh mi came to mind and I couldn’t resist trying to make my own version at home.
Banh mi is basically Vietnamese for bread, traditionally the baguette. It is also known in New Orleans, Louisiana as a “Vietnamese po’ boy”. The baguette is generally a single-serving, making the sandwich part pretty easy after slicing the bread in half. There are several ways you can make a banh mi sandwich depending on which ingredients you choose to use. Common protein ingredients include cold cuts, sliced pork or pork bellies, pork sausage, head cheese, liver pate, or tofu (for the vegetarians). These proteins are often paired with native Vietnamese ingredients, such as cilantro, cucumber, and pickled carrots and daikon. Other favorite condiments include spicy chili sauce, sliced chilies, mayonnaise, and cheese. From my experience, when the sandwich is finished, it is dipped in a chili or soy sauce. Although my white bread was no whole grain, it was much less bread than a whole baguette, making it a lighter version. If you want something easy, fun, and completely different than your normal weekly meal, try my delicious spin on banh mi 🙂
American Po’ Girl
Yield: 2 sandwiches
Prep time: 15 minutes, Cook time: 5 minutes, Total time: 20 minutes
4 slices white bread
2 oz. prosciutto
4-6 oz pepper jack cheese, sliced
2 Tbsp. light mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. white vinegar (rice vinegar can work here too)
3/4 cup red onion, sliced length-wise
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup English cucumber, sliced
1/3 cup shredded or thinly sliced carrots
1/2 jalapeno, sliced width-wise
Handful of cilantro leaves
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup Thai or sweet chili sauce
Slice the cucumbers (and carrots if needed) and combine with carrots and vinegar in a small bowl. Toss to coat. Slice the jalapeno and pepper jack cheese and set aside. Heat olive oil in a medium saute pan and saute for about 5 mins until translucent.
On a plate, begin to assemble your banh mi sandwich. Spread the mayo on the inside of a slice of bread. Next, add your ingredients. Mine went as follows: mayo, slice of proscuitto, pickled cucumbers and carrots, jalapeno slices, a few cilantro leaves, glazed red onion, and pepper jack cheese. I decided I wanted a hot banh mi so I placed mine in the panini grill (or George Foreman grill) for about 5 minutes. While cooking, pour the dipping sauces in two separate ramekins. Once the cheese is melted (~4-5 minutes), cut the sandwich in half and dip the sandwich in your desired sauce for each yummy bite.