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Banh Mi (Vietnamese Baguettes)



Banh Mi is a classical Vietnamese street food dish that can be found all throughout Vietnam. Similar to French baguettes however these are extremely light in the centre and crispy on the outside. Before writing this recipe I must firstly say a massive thank you to the baker from the Nam Dinh province in Vietnam who shared his knowledge of how to make banh mi with me during the early hours of one morning. I trialled this recipe so many times plus I went straight to the source of where they are made to find out exactly how to make these wonderful baguettes. I can’t wait to share with you how to make the real thing and experience a legit Banh Mi. I want the focus of this recipe to be on the baguettes however I will add a simple guide and recipe of what to put inside of them. With all that said let’s get it!


1. Ok let’s begin to mention that the dough will contain 2 parts. Firstly part 1 will be the “polish” for the banh mi. This effectively will create a really nice crust on the baguette and creates that infamous crack that all good bakers look for. In a small cup add 7g of dry yeast and 100ml of warm water approx 36°c and mix until the yeast dissolves. Now add the yeast mixture to the flour and using a spatula combine to a smooth paste. When ready cover with clingfilm and allow to prove in a humid area for 1 hour 15 mins.

2. Now onto part 2 of the dough, for this method I used a kitchen aid as it makes the dough so much easier to kneed. Now our polish has finished proving we can now create the dough. In a large mixing bowl add 500g of flour, 20g baking powder, 6g salt, 15g sugar, 260ml cold water, the juice of half a lemon and all of the polish that we made earlier. Place the mixing bowl into a kitchen aid and mix with a dough hook for 5 mins on a medium to low speed setting until the dough starts to form.
3. After 5 minutes the dough should be nice and formed. Now turn up the speed onto a medium to high setting and gradually add 10ml of cooking oil. Beat the dough for a further 6-8 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic in texture. When ready the dough will be slightly wet but yet manageable. Cover with clingfilm again and prove for a further 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove from the mixing bowl and place onto a work surface lightly brushed with a small amount of cooking oil.
4. Now divide the dough evenly into 6 pieces roughly 140g in weight. When all the dough is evenly cut, roll into rough balls and cover with cling film.
5. Now to shape the baguette, the best method is to take out 1 ball of dough and slap the dough flat onto the surface to release any air pockets. Roll the dough out to a flat rectangle roughly the size of the palm of your hand. When flat begin to roll the dough tightly leaving the centre of the dough thicker than the corners. When fully rolled pinch the edges tightly to form the basic baguette shape. To expand the baguette using your palms, carefully roll the edges of the dough to stretch and to make the baguette longer and to create that infamous banh mi shape. (This may take some practice and I recommend looking up some banh mi, how to roll tutorials first).
6. When all the banh mi’s are rolled out, space the baguettes onto a baguette tray or a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Now prove the rolled baguettes one last time in a warm humid area for 1 hour until they double in size. The best way to achieve this is to place a pan of warm water into the bottom of the oven and place the baguettes on top. Leave the oven turned off and close the door to create a humid enclosed environment.  
7. Whilst we are waiting on the baguettes final prove we can now start on the fillings for the Banh mi. For the Denver steak start by creating a marinade. Finely chop 1 shallot, 1 lemongrass stalk, 4 cloves of garlic and 1 red chilli then add to a bowl. Now add 2 tbsp palm sugar, 3 tbsp fish sauce, 4 tbsp olive oil and a generous amount of black pepper. Add the Denver steaks to the marinade and nicely coat. Leave to marinade for at least half an hour before cooking.
8. For the pickles, slice 1 carrot and approximately a 10cm piece of daikon into a thick ish julienne. Now in a bowl add 4 tbsp sugar, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1 chopped garlic clove and 1 sliced red chilli. Mix well until the sugar has dissolved then add the carrot and daikon. Allow to pickle for at least 30 minutes. (If you cant get daikon then simply use cucumber).  
9. Now back to the baguettes, after 1 hour of final proving the baguettes should now have doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 190°c and place a tray of hot water at the bottom of the oven. Using a very small sharp knife make 1 large score going lengthways on each baguette. (The score should be fairly deep to allow the baguettes to expand whilst cooking). Now spray the baguettes well with water and place into the preheated oven. Cook the baguettes at 190°c for 15 minutes.
10. After 15 minutes of baking turn the baking tray of baguettes around to help cook evenly then spray the inside of the oven with water to create further moisture. (This will give the banh mi its crisp and also to prevent them from drying up). When the baking trays have been adjusted cook for a further 10 minutes again at 190°c. When the banh mi’s have finished baking remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.
11. Now the baguettes are ready we can now begin to assemble the banh mi. For the Denver steak add to a hot pan with a drizzle of oil and for rare, cook for 2 minutes each side. When cooked remove from the pan and allow to rest for 10 minutes covered in tinfoil. After resting slice the Denver steaks as thin as possible against the grain and set to one side. Finally lay out all of the remaining fillings and prepare to build the banh mi.
12. Now to build, slice the baguettes down the centre then lightly spread over the siracha mayo. Lay the sliced Denver steak inside and add coriander, fresh chilli and some of the pickled vegetables…Take a deep breath and nourish!

Additional notes

I know what you’re thinking, I could just go and buy a baguette from the supermarket, however, once you have tried these you would not think twice about making them fresh. They really are that unique and way more delicious…As for the filling its a really versatile dish, traditionally people add pate, chilled meats, omelettes, bbq pork and even kebab. It may seem long-winded to make but with a little practice, these baguettes will become your go-to carb fix. Again I would like to take the time to say thank you to the kind man who helped teach me how to make banh mi at 3 am in the morning! You are a legend! have fun making banh mi!


To make 6 baguettes:
Banh mi:
500g bread flour
20g baking powder
6g salt
15g sugar
260ml cold water
1/2 lemon juice
10ml cooking oil
Banh Mi (polish)
100g bread flour
100ml warm water
7g dry active yeast
Denver steak filling and marinade:
2 Denver steaks or 2 bavettes
1 shallot
1 red chilli
4 garlic cloves
1 lemongrass stalk
2 tbsp palm sugar
3 tbsp fish sauce
4 tbsp olive oil or cooking oil
black pepper
pickled daikon and carrot
siracha and mayo