Do chua (pickled veggies) and banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich)

A basic recipe for the classic Vietnamese sandwich.

Do chua (pickled veggies) and banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich)

Recipe type:
Preparation time: 40 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 1

So, this week in the Bodard household, we have a surplus of chả lụa aka Vietnamese pâté. Cue recipes such as bánh cuốn (well, actually, store-bought bánh cuốn; as you can see here, bánh cuốn can get pretty involving pretty fast…). It wouldn’t be so bad if we dined home everyday, but of course we’re party animals :=)

So, what to do with the extra chả lụa, preferably for work lunches? I’ve been wanting to try out bánh mì, the Vietnamese sandwich, for a while, but never had time. And one of the (many possible) meats for bánh mì is chả lụa. Ah-ha!

First off, though, the bánh mì requires đồ chua (aka “pickled stuff”). Which I hadn’t tried either! So, without further ado, recipes for both:

Dồ chua (Vietnamese pickles)

(recipe creatively merged from Le Bo Bun Café’s “Carottes marinées à la Vietnamienne”, and Viet World Kitchen’s đồ chua )

Bánh mì 
(inspired from Vietworld kitchen’s Master Banh Mi recipe. Be warned, as usual, that my take on it has the authenticity you’d expect from a health-conscious Franco-Vietnamese–ie, not as they make them in Saigon…)

Pickles are a staple of Vietnamese food: they’re a nice complement to rich food (especially for Tết) and any kind of meat/shrimps in salad form. Think side dishes for nem nướng (ground pork patties), bún chả giò (rice vermicelli with spring rolls)… And you can also use them to make a bành mí!

Do chua (pickled veggies) and banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich)
Recipe type: To Go
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
A basic recipe for the classic Vietnamese sandwich.
  • Pickle jars. I used two old jars of jam, as we have a big jam eater at home.-
  • 3 medium-sized carrots (you can mix and match with daikon as well, say a carrot and a daikon, but I can get carrots way more easily than daikon...)
  • 4 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup rice vinegar (white vinegar if you really can't find rice vinegar, but I'd recommend rice, it's less astringent)
  • ½ cup warm water
  • a 7-inch bit of baguette (a demi-baguette for the French amongst us)
  • chả lụa, sliced into sticks (you can buy it in Asian stores)
  • dồ chua
  • seeded cucumber sticks
  • leaves from 3-4 coriander stalks, chopped roughly
  • maggi seasoning sauce or soy sauce
  • chilli slices (optional)
  • butter or mayonnaise (optional)
  1. Peel the vegetables, and chop them into matchsticks (roughly 2'' long, and reasonably thin).
  2. Rub the 4 teaspoons sugar and the 2 teaspoons salt into the vegetables, and leave to rest. Water should accumulate at the bottom of your vegetable holder; wait until they've softened a bit (I leave it for 30 minutes; I believe the standard way is to wait until the carrots have softened enough that you can bend them and have their ends meet).
  3. Wash the vegetables, gently pressing on them to make them disgorge further water. Leave them for a bit so that they dry.
  4. Meanwhile, mix the pickling liquid: put the warm water, the vinegar and the sugar, and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Put vegetables and pickling liquid into pot: the vegetables should be entirely covered with liquid. Leave to rest for at least one hour.
  1. Slice bread in half, and scoop out the soft part to create a trough in the baguette (yup, I'm not teaching you anything if you already know how to make a sandwich...).
  2. If the bread isn't firm and crunchy, toast it first, then let it cool for a bit before proceeding.
  3. If using butter or mayonnaise, spread it on the baguette (I don't, I prefer my sandwiches the diet way. But butter or mayonnaise makes it easier for the rest of the ingredients to stick to the bread, which can come in handy).
  4. Sprinkle the maggi sauce or soy sauce (a few drops go a long way). Then add the rest of the ingredients, et voilà.
  5. You'll notice I'm not giving any firm guidelines as to quantities, as it depends very much on what you like. The main component is the meat (which can be chả lụa, which can be marinated pork, xá xíu... the possibilities at this stage are endless); the rest adds a little breathing space, and how of that much you want is up to you (I'd suggest having at least one bánh mì, to have an idea what it's supposed to taste like, but it's not a very firm recipe).
The pickled vegetables can be kept in the fridge for a few months.
Sandwich variants: as mentioned above, change the meat to xá xíu, marinated pork, eggs, meatballs... You can also put less chả lụa, and spread French pâté on the sandwich (again, not my thing; but it's a common variant).