When you think of really great street food one of the name that comes to the tip of most tongues is Vietnam. The bustling, ant-colony like streets and lined with carts and stalls selling all manner of hand held delights. One of the most famous and well-tried of these is the Bánh Mì. A remnant of French Colonialism and local herbs and vegetables the Bánh Mì has been a staple in the Vietnamese diet for years. A crusty French baguette filled with pickled daikon radish and carrot, mint, coriander, pork, beef, prawns whatever was available, mayonnaise, pate it is a fragrant smack in the tastebuds. One that we are going to recreate here.
I have made this sandwich a few times before but this has to be my favourite version of it. Incredibly quick to make and so fresh it’ll knock you into next week. The key to this, in my opinion is good bread. Buying a really good quality baguette from a baker or somewhere like Fallon and Byrne will pay dividends when you tear through it to the zingy pickled salad inside. The baguette is where you want to spend a little extra cash, trust me.
For this one I am going to use king prawns I got in the Asian Market on Drury st but any prawns will do, even frozen ones will work. You can also do the exact same thing here with chicken breast of pork fillet. Whatever you have in the fridge really. The salad will also last a fair while so keep it in a jar to liven up another meal. The daikon radish (also called a mooli) can be found in any decent ethnic vegetable store like the Asian Supermarkets or Fallon and Byrne again.
8 tiger prawns or 12 shrimp
Half of a daikon radish.
1 bunch of coriander
1 bunch of mint
1 x 12” French Baguette
-First off take the heads and shells off your prawns or if you are using frozen ones, defrost them and pat them dry.
-Zest the limes and finely chop the stalks of the bunch of coriander. Add these to the prawns with a tablespoon of sunflower oil. Leave them to marinade for as long as possible but they could pretty much be used straight away.
-Finely slice the leaves from the coriander and the mint and mix together in a large bowl.
-Add these to the mixing bowl along with a pinch of salt and the juice from both limes. The salt and the acidic juice will pickle the carrot and radish giving you an incredibly zingy kick. Thoroughly mix the salad together and crush it between your hands. This helps the pickling process.
All that’s left now is to tuck in and imagine yourself floating down the Mekong delta as you sit and watch the world go by. Soundtrack supplied by Robin Williams is an optional extra.