Vietnamese Bread: From a popular dish in the world
Vietnamese bread, also known as “bánh mì,” has become a beloved staple in not only Vietnam but also in many parts of the world. What started as a humble street food dish has now evolved into a cultural icon, with different variations and fillings that cater to a wide range of tastes. From savory meats to fresh vegetables, Vietnamese bread is a delicious and satisfying option for any meal of the day. Let’s explore the history, ingredients, and cultural significance of this beloved food in more detail.
The origin of Vietna mese bread
The basic recipe for Vietnamese bread is flour mixed with water and yeast, then formed into various shapes to attract diners. Until now, the origin and time of bread appearing in the world have not been determined, but there are documents that suggest bread existed 10,000 years ago during the Neolithic era when agriculture underwent many changes. In particular, during this era, humans knew how to cultivate wheat and use it to make bread.
Other documents also record the appearance of bread over 30,000 years ago or during ancient Egypt. By the early years of the Common Era, the Romans had brought bread to France, and from the 11th century onwards, this dish gradually became the main food in this country.
In Vietnam, the first loaves of bread followed the French colonizers to our country in 1859 with the name “Baguette” bread. At that time, due to economic conditions, bread was only used as a luxury food.
Later, under the skilled hands of Vietnamese bakers, loaves of bread with a unique Vietnamese flavor were born. Initially, there were only a few small but famous locations such as Hoa Ma bread, and then bread was further modified to have the size and length it is today. After many ups and downs in history, nowadays, bread has become a special highlight in Vietnamese cuisine.
Vietnamese bread reaches out to the world
Not only famous in Vietnam but Vietnamese bread is also loved in many countries around the world. Even more proudly, on March 24, 2011, the word “banh mi” was added to the Oxford dictionary, and listed as one of the best sandwiches in the world. Moreover, National Geographic magazine has praised Vietnamese Banh Mi as one of the 11 best street foods in the world.
In particular, in 2018, Hoi An bread was recognized by CNN as the “King of Sandwiches in the World”, and most recently, on March 24, 2020, Vietnamese bread was honored again when it appeared on the homepage of Google more than 10 countries.
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What makes Vietnamese bread different?
Ingredients of Vietnamese bread
The thing that surprises global diners when enjoying Vietnamese baguettes is the amazing, delicious flavor created from very rustic and familiar ingredients. The beauty of Vietnamese people is that they can make simplicity elegant. Using the most common ingredients, they can create a famous and renowned baguette that transcends national borders.
The main ingredients for making VIETNAMESE BAGUETTES are animal meat processed into sausage, pork roll, meatballs, roasted pork, pate, ground meat simmered with spices, Chinese sausage, etc. In addition, there are eggs, small fish, shredded chicken, lard with green onions, cold cuts, butter, etc. Traveling throughout the country, you will find that each region has its own unique baguette flavor, but they are all equally delicious and can touch the hearts of any diner.
However, a delicious and excellent banh mi not only includes meat but also requires thinly sliced cucumbers, pickles, cilantro, onions, scallions, and herbs… And especially cannot lack the “holy” sauce to enhance the famous, flavorful taste. In places where the sauce is not made, they use soy sauce, salt, fish sauce, or soup powder… and add a bit of mayonnaise or chili sauce. With just these ingredients, they can make a banh mi that “thrills” the hearts of many people.
How to make Vietnamese bread
The bread must be crispy and then sliced lengthwise along the body of the bread, then spread with pate, add the filling one by one, and finally pour the sauce on top to complete it. Although the cooking method is simple, when you see the skillful hands of the vendors add the meat, vegetables, and sauce, it will be hard to resist this familiar dish. Each ingredient added to the bread contributes to the delicious taste of this simple and beloved dish.
Vietnamese bread varieties
Vietnamese cuisine is fascinating because each region of the country has its own types of bread, each with unique fillings. Traveling across the three regions offers a diverse range of delicious options to try:
- THIT (meat) bread:
The most popular type in Saigon, the filling includes meat, butter, pâté, sausage, cold cuts, scallions, pickled vegetables, and chili.
- Xíu mại (pork meatballs) bread:
Xíu mại is actually pork meatballs with tomato sauce. In Saigon, the taste is slightly sweet while in Dalat, xíu mại bread has a spicy flavor.
- BI/DA (shredded pork and pork skin) bread:
The bread is filled with shredded pork or pork skin, with a little fish sauce on top, simple but delicious.
- Chà bông (pork floss) bread:
As the name suggests, the main ingredient for this bread is pork floss. Usually, vendors will also add a little soy sauce to enhance the flavor.
- CA MOI (anchovy) bread:
Canned anchovies with tomato sauce, when combined with bread, create an unforgettable taste. Once you try it, you will surely remember the delicious flavor of this anchovy bread.
Other types of Vietnamese bread include beef stew, barbecued pork, pate, coconut, tofu, curry, Vietnamese pork sausage, butter, sunny-side-up eggs, and breadsticks. Despite their differences, they all share the simple yet flavorful taste that characterizes Vietnamese bread, made from basic ingredients.
Famous Vietnamese bread shops in Saigon and Hanoi
The best bread shops in Hanoi
Hoang Duc Skewer Meat Bread (55 Chua Lang, Dong Da District):
This shop is decorated in a miniature version of Hanoi during the subsidy period, which is very interesting. The bread here is filled with fragrant grilled skewered meat and sweet and sour pickled vegetables. You can also order extra skewered meat to go with the garlic butter bread if you like.
Hai Map Bread (23 Hang Duong, Hoan Kiem District):
The most special thing about this shop is the homemade bread, which tastes similar to Huynh Hoa bread in Saigon. The filling includes smooth pate, pork meatloaf, pork paste, garlic sausage, shredded pork skin, pork floss, fresh egg sauce, barbecue pork, pickled vegetables, soy sauce, cilantro, cucumber, scallion, and green chili. The combination of these ingredients results in an excellent, flavorful loaf of bread with rich pork floss and creamy pate taste, along with a spicy kick from the green chili. It’s a taste that people will remember forever.
Ancestral Bread (at the intersection of Tran Nhat Duat and Cao Thang):
The shop starts selling bread at 3 am, but customers have already lined up from 2:30 am to wait to buy it. The bread filling is cooked in a pan before it is added to the bread. The secret to enjoying banh mi is to eat it at the shop. Taking it to go can cause the bread to become soggy, and the flavor won’t be as complete.
The must-try bread shops in Saigon
Huynh Hoa bread (26 Le Thi Rieng, District 1):
Known as the “star” of bread shops, Huynh Hoa bread is famous for “not just the meatloaf in bread, but the bread in meatloaf”. Just one bite and you will immediately immerse yourself in the unique, chewy, and fragrant taste that you won’t get tired of.
Ms. Diep bread (238 Vo Thanh Trang, Ward 11, Tan Binh District):
This shop has been around for decades and is always crowded with customers 24/7. A loaf of bread will come with a full range of pate, butter, meat, sausage, pickles, scallions… at a very reasonable price.
Hoa Ma bread (53 Cao Thang, Ward 4, District 3):
This is one of the first bread shops in Saigon. The accompanying dishes here are all “exclusive”, so they are loved by many people.
- In addition, you can visit Nguyen Trai grilled meat bread (at the entrance of Alley 39 Nguyen Trai, District 1).
- Bay Ho bread (19 Huynh Khuong Ninh, Da Kao Ward, District 1)
- Coc bread (112A Nguyen Thai Son, Ward 3, Go Vap District)… to explore and have a wonderful experience with Vietnamese bread.
In conclusion, Vietnamese bread has gone from being a beloved local dish to a global phenomenon. Its unique blend of flavors and textures has made it a cultural symbol of Vietnam, and its popularity continues to grow worldwide. Vietnamese bread has become a culinary ambassador for the country and its people, showcasing the innovation and creativity of Vietnamese cuisine.