Among the different versions of ‘banh mi’ available in Vietnam, the ‘banh mi cay’ (spicy ‘banh mi’) of Hai Phong may be the humblest, consisting of just a baguette, some pate and a squeeze of local chilli sauce.
Spicy ‘banh mi’: A speciality of Hai Phong city
A spicy ‘banh mi’ is just a couple of fingers in width and is filled with an aromatic pate. The bread is drizzled with oil and baked over charcoal for a crunchy finish.
The snack costs between just 2,000 VND to 5,000 VND each. With a single US dollar, you could buy ten!
Most spicy ‘banh mi’ sellers in Hai Phong make the pate at home.
Pork skin is boiled and sliced and then ground with lean pork and liver. Dried onions and garlic are stir-fried in boiling oil.
The mixture of ground pork, skin and liver will be seasoned with salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar and then stir-fried with the onion and garlic. The chef will then put a layer of pork fat at the bottom of a mould, spoon the mixture of pate on top and steam it for about five hours.
Good pate is smooth in texture, with pork evenly spread over the surface. The pate should be slightly pink in colour with white spots of pork fat. There should be flavours of liver and garlic.
One thing that makes Hai Phong ‘banh mi’ different from those of other areas is the chilli sauce. Locals make the sauce with a mixture of chilli, tomatoes, garlic and salt.