Kitchen Capers

The Best Homemade Bahn Mi

by Edwan S. Photography Honey Ahmad on Fri, March 27, 2015

We've been wanting to make Bahn Mi in our kitchen for ages so when the opportunity rose to get a bona fide Vietnamese chef in our kitchen... well the day was seized and it was delicious!

You won't want to eat any other sandwich!

The Bahn Mi is one of the greatest sandwiches in the world. It's a perfect marriage of East and West. The French baguette, fine-tuned and adapted by skillful Vietnamese bakers, is married to a rich pate and various meats. Bringing the richness of the filling together is often a fresh mix of pickled carrots, radish and coriander. A good bahn mi is a satisfying, filling and mind-blowing experience. Unfortunately here in KL, there aren't many good bahn mi places. So we called in the services of Vincent, a Vietnamese-Australian friend of ours, to make us some bahn mis. And damn, were they GOOD.

First of all, we needed good bread. A bahn mi isn't a bahn mi if it's not on a good, crusty loaf. So we got fresh baguettes from Tommy Le Baker and then went shopping. This bahn mi is a simple version, grilled chicken bahn mi with chicken liver pate and pickled vegetables- you can even opt to just put in fresh vegetables instead of pickling them.

Chicken Liver Pate
Firstly, make the pate. Get chicken livers- fresh as you can get them, clean and soak them overnight.

- 200g chicken livers
- Oil for frying
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 110g unsalted butter, cubed
- 20ml fish sauce
- Salt and black pepper to taste

To make them, first wash the livers under water and pat dry. Heat oil in a wok (this makes easier cooking) and fry the liver in batches until caramelized- on high heat. Cook them in batches so the wok doesn't lose heat and make the livers soggy.

Fry the livers until browned and fragrant

Next, when the livers are all browned, add in half the onions and garlic. Transfer the livers out, then blitz them in a food processor with the butter and fish sauce to make a smooth paste. Season to taste, then keep it in a container and chill. This helps it set.

Season your pate to your taste, we like it nice and peppery

Pickled Carrots
This is best done the night before (so you eat it on the day you're making the sandwiches, duh!).

- 250ml water
- 250ml white vinegar
- 250g caster sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp salt
- 2 - 3 carrots, grated

Whisk together the water, vinegar, sugar and salt until dissolved. Pour over the carrots in a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Chicken Filling
This is one of the simplest to make, you can also fill your bahn mi with crispy chicken or a fried minced meat of your choice. A great vegetarian one will be substituting a pan-fried hard cheese like halloumi for your meat.

- 4 chicken thighs or breasts, pounded a bit flat
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 Tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce

Pickles and meat. Awesome combo.

Marinate the chicken for a couple of hours, or better still, overnight. Then, heat some oil in a pan and cook the chicken in batches until well browned and juicy. Set aside to cool down a bit.

You know what time is it? It's Bahn Mi time!

To make the best bahn mi ever, you need:

- 1 - 2 good French baguette, halved
- The chicken you just cooked
- Those pickled carrots
- Grated cucumber
- Coriander, as much as you want
- Sriracha sauce
- Japanese mayonnaise
- The pate!

Make sure there's enough for everyone!

To assemble, just follow this order: bread - spread the pate - pan grilled chicken - pickled carrots and grated cucumber - Sriracha and mayo - coriander. Top with bread. Now dig in. This sandwich is an explosion of flavours on your tongue. Savoury and umami from the soy and fish sauces, juicy with chicken and that rich, fatty taste of the liver pate. The vegetables add a welcome burst of freshness and crunch, playing nicely with spicy Sriracha and creamy sweet mayonnaise.


Easily one of the best things we've made in our kitchen this year!

Recipe: Vincent Pham