EVERETT – This is a reminder to feed yourself good things this week.
You might be busy, gobbling down instant oatmeal and 16 to 32 ounces of coffee before another hectic day at work, or you might be at home, bored with your weekly meal rotation and looking for something refreshing. exciting to eat.
Whatever your week, I implore you to make room for bánh mì, a hearty, inexpensive Vietnamese sandwich and one of my favorite take-out meals since moving to Washington. Fresh, pickled vegetables are nestled on grilled meat (or tofu), then wrapped in a fluffy baguette-like roll.
The toppings are an ode to both Vietnamese cuisine and French influence: grilled or barbecued pork, pâté, chicken, egg, beef, ham, shrimp, marinated tofu, charcuterie. They all work well with a colorful and characteristic burst of daikon, cucumber, carrot and cilantro on top. It’s like biting into the spring. The sliced jalapeño brings more crunch as well as heat.
Bánh mì makes for an affordable breakfast or lunch (or quick snack or dinner), costing around $6-8 each at Vietnamese restaurants in Snohomish County.
The decades-old sandwich is a triumph over French colonization, a take-out meal that originated after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, ending the First Indochina War. During their occupation, the French brought bread, beer, coffee, carrots and other goods. The Vietnamese have appropriated these ingredients, from their thick, robust, highly caffeinated coffee, often sweetened with condensed milk, to the bánh mì topped with grated carrots.
Like Matthew Pike wrote in a 2018 cultural trip story, “After the French left, the South Vietnamese were free to modify French dishes to include local ingredients. Mayonnaise replaced butter and vegetables replaced more expensive cold cuts. The bánh mì evolved into a dish that everyone could afford.
You can find bánh mì all over Snohomish County, from Yeh Yeh south in Lynnwood to District 1’s Banh Mi restaurant north in Marysville. Head west for bánh mì at Phở Mimôsa in Snohomish or Saigon Pho and Grill in Monroe. In Everett, check out Yummy Deli (not to be confused with Yummy Banh Mi, in downtown Everett) located near Fred Meyer off Evergreen Way.
Just had a look at Yeh Yeh’s menu to find salmon, brisket and even pastrami on their bánh mì menu. I know where I’m going next.
Yummy Deli is my current go-to. Last week I ordered their chicken bánh mì and my favorite: marinated tofu.
Both contained an array of textures and flavors: crispy, crunchy, chewy, hearty, salty, spicy, sweet, and fresh as a cucumber. There’s nothing quite like biting into a sandwich that has everything you need, if only for a moment.