I don’t really do Vietnamese cuisine all that often. I’m more of a ramen or soba fan than a pho fan, and other Southeast Asian cuisines, but recently the notion of making a banh mi sandwich, that curious crossover between French and Asian food that has so come to identify the joining of the colonizer and the colonized obsessed me.

It got off to a rocky start–I had been referring to half a dozen different recipes: some with roasted pork, others with grilled, and more with simple broiling. I marinated a chunk if pork loin in lime juice, fish sauce, salt and pepper, and perhaps a bit of something else overnight…it barely flavored the meat. I finally opted to simply use a grill pan and sear it on the stovetop in my Spanish plancha and predictably, the meat cooked quickly and charred…though not as much as I would have liked in terms of getting blackened.


I then gathered my other sandwich fixings, which included a nice lemony mayonnaise, thinly sliced Persian cucumbers, and julienned carrots and daikon which I had pickled in sugar, a bit of salt, and rice vinegar for about an hour. Of course, there was cilantro and even some sriracha which wouldn’t even come close to my wife’s sandwich.


But look closely at both sandwiches. Which one looks more interesting to you?


In the final analysis, the weakest point was the pork in that it lacked both flavor and quantity in these sandwiches. Certainly in the future I’ll come up with a better, more infusive marinade as well as pile on more pork for each sandwich. By and large, not a bad ‘white man version’, but with room for improvement.