Sunday, June 13, 2010


We first ran into Vietnamese sandwiches eight years ago when we were doing a tour of ethnic grocery stores in Grand Rapids from articles I had saved out of the paper. At the Vietnamese store we purchased sub sandwiches which we had no idea was an authentic street food of Vietnam. Bread and oriental cooking just don’t seem to go together. The sandwich was basically a sub with pickled ginger, shredded carrots and a little fish sauce added to the mayonnaise. We were going to find out more about these sandwiches but then, life happened.

A couple of months ago we were in Holland at the Oriental Grocery Store and they had subs. Theirs had an amazingly good carrot, daikon radish and sweet onion relish and Sriracha sauce on it. This time we took time to research, visiting two oriental grocery stores and a real Vietnamese sandwich shop in Grand Rapids.

Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Mexico all have a French bread tradition as they were all it one time colonies of France. The Vietnamese sandwich is made on a small baguette roll or other crusty, soft-in-the center bread. Mayonnaise and butter are also left from the time of the French are usually used in the sandwich. Vietnamese mayonnaise is made with just the yolks of the eggs, no whites, can anyone spell RICH?

Traditional sandwiches, sometimes called Mekong Subs, we learned are made with a pork liver pate as one of the layers of meat. The sandwich that we purchased at the sandwich shop had the pate. We liked it, but our family would never eat it and again, RICH. We took the parts we liked best of the three sandwiches and from what we read in books and on the net and came up with this sandwiches. If you don’t try anything else, do try the carrot, daikon and sweet onion relish. It is delicious on just about any sandwich and keeps for a few days in the refrigerator.

Ingredients.  We were lucky to have some Chinese BBQ pork to put on ours.

Bread, baguettes
Carrot, Daikon Radish and Sweet Onion Relish
Sriracha sauce
Sliced ham
Thinly sliced lunch meat of your choice
Cucumbers, thinly sliced lengthwise
Fresh cilantro or basil, if desired
Jalapeno pepper, sliced, optional


1 large carrot, shredded or julienned
About 6 inches of medium sized daikon radish, not to thin or too thick
About a fourth of a large sweet onion, thinly sliced
½ t salt
1 t sugar
3 T rice vinegar
2 T water
1 T sugar

Put carrot, daikon radish and sweet onion in a small bowl. Add ½ teaspoon salt and 1 t sugar and toss with fingers or a fork. Let stand for 5 minutes. Put mixture in a sieve and rinse well. Put mixture back in a bowl, rinse the salt from original bowl if using again. Add rice vinegar, water and 1 tablespoon of sugar to the rinsed mixture. Mix and chill for at least an hour before using.

Ingredients for Relish.

Carrots, daikon radish and sweet onion in bowl with 1 teaspoon sugar added plus a 1/2 t salt.

Mix well and let stand for 5 minutes.

Rinse well to remove the salt.

Add 1 tablespoon sugar.

Add rice vinegar and water.  Chill for at least an hour.

The Bread:  French baguette and Mexican Teleras from our favorite Mexican bakery--Ramirez Bakery on Lakewood, Holland MI

Individual baguette or a Mexican Bolillo.

Split bread, remove some of the soft crumb if desired.  Thinly spread with Sriracha sauce or Sambal Oelek.  A little goes a long way.

Red chile sauces.  Sambal Oelek has no garlic or other spices and is Dutch Indonesian while Sriracha sauce contains garlic and is from Thailand.

Spread mayonnaise on one half of the bread.

Add meats of your choice.

Add slices of Jalapeno peppers, if desired.

Add strips of cucumber.

Top with Carrot, Daikon Radish and Sweet Onion Relish.

Add fresh cilantro for Tom or...

fresh basil for me.  So good.  Enjoy!

Pickled ginger wakes up any sandwich.  A little fish sauce in the mayonnaise is good too.

1 comment:

  1. Yeesh do great minds think alike. I have been watching the Great American Food Truck race on Food Network and the truck that consistantly came in first every week was the Nom Nom truck which peddles Vietnamese Sandwiches, including a Banh Mi using pork. Today, Jason and I did all the prep for our Banh Mi sandwiches and while the pork was marinating (we are grilling marinated pork for ours), I thought that I would get on Michigancottagecook for my daily fix. Low and behold, you posted Banh Mi sandwiches too!!! I knew we were connected in more ways than one!!