I cannot tell you who was more excited when Andrea Nguyen’s The Banh Mi Handbook arrived. It was a toss up between my kiddos and myself! We are huge fans of her work and actually admit that the family started eating tofu thanks to her last book!
The banh mi handbook is a treasure. Not only are the recipes delightful and interesting, I loved the fact that the book has an entire section dedicated to explaining all the constructs of the sandwich. Andrea explains in great detail (and style) how to get the right bread for the sandwich, the right condiments (like Maggi Seasoning Sauce), the best mayo etc. What I loved in particular is how practical her approach is. I really dislike books that inform you that if you do not make your own, say bread, the dish will NEVER taste as good as it should. Andrea is more practical (and hence makes her book a much more practical tool) and provides suggestions for store-bought breads and sauces. Of course, there is a grand recipe for making your bread etc.
We prepared the Hanoi Grilled Chicken. Our fillings included cucumber, pickled radish, onions, cilantro etc. The kids helped a lot with this and then made their own sandwiches. This dish, and the three others we tried, were all super hits.
I am not going to post the recipe here for this dish and here is why: In order to do justice to her book and her recipe, my suggestion is to go buy it. I can post the recipe for the Hanoi Grilled Chicken filling here but really that would tell you only 1/2 of what you need to know to make the perfect banh mi! The details about the bread, the sauces etc are what make this book a true standout!