Andrea Maunder, locovore, wine expert and pastry chef, is the owner and creative force behind Bacalao, a St. John's restaurant specializing in "nouvelle Newfoundland" cuisine.

Sandwiches Your Way

Have you heard of Báhn Mi (pronounced bahn-MEE)? They are the Vietnamese answer to fast food: delicious sandwiches packed with all sorts of delicious, bright flavours and textures. Báhn mi were created in the late 1800s to early 1900s under the influence of French colonialism in Indo-china, combining ingredients from the French (baguettes, cured meats or pâté and mayonnaise) with native Viet-namese ingredients, such as coriander, cucumber, chiles and pickled vegetables. Today they are made with some sort of meat protein (not limited to cold cuts) and individual-sized softer, lighter French-style bread, which is easier to eat than a very crusty baguette. They push all my flavour buttons – umami, sweet, pickled, spicy, herbaceous.

These sandwiches can be made using what you have on hand or what you love. My recipe this month is the one I used recently for a cocktail party at home, featuring duck and mini sausage buns. And we made a slaw with our favourite vegetables for ease of assembly (rather than having all the veggies added separately). They were a huge hit!

A fun idea for a BBQ would be to grill a variety of meats, prepare several fillings and condiments, and set them out for guests to create their own báhn mi sandwiches, perfectly suiting their taste. Some cold beer and sparkling wine would be perfect accompaniments!

The only unusual ingredient is fish sauce, which adds a profound flavour layer without adding a fishy or overly salty taste. It’s found in the imported section of most grocery stores now (called Nuoc Mam or Nam Pla, depending on where it’s made). If you can’t find it, substitute light soy sauce or Tamari.

Báhn Mi Sandwiches
2 large duck (or chicken) breasts
Salt and pepper to taste

For slaw dressing
1 tbsp ginger marmalade (or 1 tsp
freshly grated ginger + 1 tbsp honey or orange marmalade)
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
2 tbsp chopped cilantro (or fresh mint if you prefer)
Slaw vegetables
1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
1 golden beet, finely julienned
1 large carrot, finely julienned
1 sweet onion, finely sliced (or one bunch green onions, finely sliced)
1 cup radishes, finely sliced
1 fresh jalapeno, finely sliced (or more to taste)
4 individual-size soft style French rolls (or a soft baguette cut into 4 lengths, or white sub rolls)
Mayonnaise for assembly
Additional fresh cilantro (or mint) for garnish
Additional fresh jalapenos, thinly
sliced, for garnish (opt)

Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper and sear, skin-side down 3-4 minutes in a hot frypan to render out some of the fat from the skin. Then place in 350°F oven about 10 minutes to cook to medium. (A little pink in the meat is nicest for duck breast, keeping it tender. However, if using chicken, cook completely so no pink remains and internal temperature reaches 165°F.) Remove from oven, transfer to a plate and allow to cool. When cool, slice against the grain into thin slices and set aside.

Meantime, in a mixing bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust to your liking. More heat, more sweet, more fish sauce/salt/soy? Add slaw vegetables and toss. Set aside in the fridge.

Slice the roll laterally and toast just a little. Spread both sides with mayonnaise and layer one side with slices of duck, top with slaw and an additional sprig or two of cilantro and a few slices of jalapeno, if you like. Replace top of bread and serve.


Pâté, cold cuts, thinly sliced roast beef or lacquered pork belly make delicious substitutions. I have made these with lamb and swapped mint for the cilantro. Marinated tofu or omelette are lovely vegetarian options. Why not go outside the box and use some thinly sliced, chilled lobster meat? It’s in season now and I can imagine how delicious that would be! 

What do you think?
Be the first to comment...