Banh mi is a popular Vietnamese sandwich that has gained popularity all over the world. The sandwich consists of a baguette stuffed with various fillings such as grilled pork, pate, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs. However, choosing the right side dish to complement the flavors of banh mi can sometimes be challenging. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on what sides go with banh mi and how to create your own unique side dish.
Banh Mi: Exploring the Delicious Vietnamese Sandwich
Banh mi is a type of sandwich that originated in Vietnam during the French colonial period. The sandwich consists of a crusty baguette filled with various ingredients such as meat, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs. Banh mi quickly became popular among locals and soon spread throughout Southeast Asia and beyond.
History of Banh Mi
The history of banh mi dates back to the 19th century when the French colonized Vietnam. During this time, the French introduced bread to Vietnam, which was quickly adopted by the locals. However, due to the scarcity of wheat flour, the Vietnamese adapted the bread recipe using rice flour, resulting in a lighter and crispier texture. The banh mi sandwich as we know it today was created during the 1950s when vendors started filling the baguette with various ingredients like grilled meats, pate, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs.
Variations of Banh Mi
Banh mi has evolved over the years, and there are now many variations of the classic sandwich. Some popular variations include:
- Banh mi thit nuong: A grilled pork version of the sandwich.
- Banh mi ga: A chicken version of the sandwich.
- Banh mi chay: A vegetarian version of the sandwich.
- Banh mi trung: A sandwich filled with scrambled eggs.
- Banh mi op la: A sandwich with a fried egg on top.
Choosing the Right Side Dish
Choosing the right side dish for banh mi is crucial to complement the flavors of the sandwich. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the perfect side dish:
Consider the Protein
The protein in the side dish should complement the filling in the sandwich. For example, if your banh mi has grilled pork, then a side dish with chicken or beef may not be the best choice. Instead, opt for a side dish that uses pork as the primary protein source, such as Vietnamese pork sausage.
Balance the Flavors
The side dish should balance the flavors of the sandwich. If the sandwich is already spicy, then opting for a mild side dish can help balance out the heat. On the other hand, if your sandwich is relatively plain, then a spicy side dish can add some much-needed flavor.
Texture is Key
The texture of the side dish is also essential. Banh mi sandwiches have a crispy baguette, so opting for a side dish with a similar texture can provide a satisfying contrast. Some examples of texture-rich side dishes include rice noodles or crispy spring rolls.
What Sides Go With Banh Mi? Popular Side Dishes for Banh Mi
Now that we’ve covered the considerations for choosing the perfect side dish let’s explore some popular side dishes that go well with banh mi sandwiches.
Pickled vegetables are a staple in many Vietnamese dishes and are often used as a side dish for banh mi sandwiches. The sourness of the pickled vegetables complements the richness of the sandwich filling, making it an ideal pairing. Common pickled vegetables used in banh mi side dishes include carrots, daikon radish, and cucumber.
Rice noodles are a popular side dish in Vietnamese cuisine and pair perfectly with banh mi sandwiches. The light and fluffy texture of the noodles contrasts well with the dense filling of the sandwich. You can also add some fresh herbs, such as cilantro or mint, to the noodles for additional flavor.
Fresh herbs are essential in Vietnamese cuisine and are often used to add freshness and brightness to dishes. Adding fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, or Thai basil to your banh mi side dish can help balance out the rich flavors of the sandwich.
Sauces and Dips
Sauces and dips can bring an added dimension of flavor to your banh mi sandwich. Popular sauces and dips used in banh mi side dishes include peanut sauce, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and fish sauce. These sauces can also be used to dip the sandwich into, providing a unique eating experience.
Creating Your Own Side Dish
Creating your own unique side dish for Banh mi can be a fun and exciting way to experiment with different flavors and textures. Here are some tips on how to create your own banh mi side dish:
Experiment with Flavors
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavor combinations. Start by using the ingredients you already have on hand, and then add new flavors one at a time. For example, if you have leftover grilled chicken, try adding some sliced mango and a squeeze of lime juice for a tropical twist.
Use Local Ingredients
Using local ingredients is an excellent way to support your community and create unique flavor combinations. For instance, if you live in the South, you might incorporate fried green tomatoes into your side dish. Alternatively, if you live near the coast, you could use fresh shrimp as the protein source for your side dish.
Think Outside the Box
You don’t have to stick to traditional Vietnamese ingredients when creating your banh mi side dish. Consider incorporating ingredients from other cuisines, such as Indian spices or Mexican salsas, to bring new flavors to the table. The possibilities are endless!
In conclusion, choosing the right side dish for banh mi can enhance the eating experience and bring out the best flavors in the sandwich. Whether you opt for traditional pickled vegetables or experiment with your own unique flavor combinations, there’s no wrong way to enjoy this delicious Vietnamese sandwich. So next time you’re making banh mi, don’t forget to consider what sides go with banh mi – you might just discover a new favorite combination!