Switch Up Banh Mi Sandwiches With Canned Sardines

If you've never had a banh mi sandwich before, it's a culinary crime and you should be sprinting to get your hands on one. These Vietnamese sandwiches take a crunchy French baguette and fill it with Southeast Asian delicacies. Commonly found in food trucks and Asian markets, the banh mi will commonly have a centerpiece of lemongrass chicken, pulled pork, or sliced deli meats. An unsung hero of the banh mi community is the banh mi ca moi which uses sardines canned in tomato sauce.

Perfect for pescatarians and omnivores alike, the sardines give a wonderful tanginess that plays nicely with the pickled veggies and cilantro. The banh mi got its start when the French invaded Vietnam in the 19th century and brought their bread with them. After a while, the sandwich became a street food staple and Vietnamese ingredients started to replace what the French had been using.

If you're making this sandwich at home, don't forget to grab sardines that are stored in tomato sauce instead of oil or brine. If you're having trouble finding it at your local grocery store, check for an Asian grocery nearby. They will almost certainly carry some. Pickling your own carrots and daikon is really easy and should definitely not be skipped if you're considering cutting corners.

How to make a sardine banh mi

It all starts with the bread. Vietnamese baguettes are slightly different from the French kind since they use rice flour which gives them that extra crunchy texture. Check your local Asian market for a bakery aisle.

For the pickled carrots and daikon, slice them into matchsticks and place them in a bowl or jar with one tablespoon of sugar and two teaspoons of salt. Toss to coat. Add ¼ cup of water and ¼ cup of vinegar. Let it sit for at least an hour although if you have the time you should refrigerate them for a few days for maximum flavor.

Cut the bread through the middle and toast it, if you like. Heat the sardines up on the stove over medium heat. Now put the sandwich together. Spread mayonnaise on the bread and then add the sardines. Top with the carrots, daikon, and chopped cilantro. If you want a little spice, consider adding diced jalapeno.