My Love Affair with Bahn Mi

I remember the very first bahn mi I ever had.  I was at Pho Bac on Buford Highway and my now husband let me have a bite of his.  We used to go to Pho Bac and get pho and bubble tea probably once a week or so in college. He strayed from our norm one day and I am glad he did.  I had never tasted anything like a bahn mi before.  The crunchy and flaky bread, the tender meat, pickled vegetables (which I didn’t think I would like), and heat from jalapenos.  It was an eye opening moment.

Now that we live in Seattle, although I have never had better pho than from Pho Bac, I have eaten an unhealthy number of bahn mi since being here.  I sometimes joke that I am on a mission to try all the bahn mi and Vietnamese iced coffee in the city.  The truth is I just eat a lot of them from places that I like and happen to live close to.  At the very tippy top of my list is Local Pho.  Not only are they incredibly generous with their portions, I can’t get enough of whatever their chicken is marinated in. I love their pickled vegetables and their bread has a nice crunch to it.  Their coffee always hits the spot on a hot day.  It is nice and dark and not too sweet.  Props you guys.

I do have a close second with Artisan Cafe.  I may like the bahn mi from Local Pho better but to be honest it is kinda like comparing apples and oranges.  The bread that Artisan uses has ideal levels of crunch.  They also use fresh jalapenos instead of pickled ones which gives more heat. Never the less, this leads me to the point in this post.  I got the bright idea to give making bahn mi a go.  Why I thought I should do this is beyond me.  Here is how my journey went.

I found a recipe for making pickled vegetables and figured that was a good place to start.  The recipe said they needed to hang out for like 5 days so I had plenty of time to plan my next phase of attack. It was a pretty straight forward recipe so that part was easy enough.  Here is the recipe I used: Vietnamese Pickled Vegetables.

Then I was debating if I wanted to buy a baguette or make my own.  I decided that I should make my own even if it wasn’t as good as store bought.  I just thought that I would feel way more proud of my finished product if I took the time to make it myself.  Although I read the recipe probably 50 times before and during the process, I still felt like a fish out of water.  I was really proud of the finished product although it didn’t have the crunch I was really hoping for.  Here is the recipe I used: Vietnamese Baguette.

By the time I got around to actually putting everything together, I decided on just throwing together a simple marinade for some tofu and pan searing it.  I know that I am very partial to chicken bahn mi but after much awaited anticipation I was just so ready to dive in that tofu was the best option.After dreaming and prepping for almost a week, I was just so ready to eat my bahn mi.  Was it as good as from a restaurant, no, but for a first go I was very happy with it.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t know if I have ever been so proud of anything else I have made.  There were just so many components that were so different that how I usually cook that I felt like I was for sure pushing my limits.  I will for sure make bahn mi again and perfect my techniques.  Until then, you guys over at Local Pho are stuck with me!


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