Your Favorite Vietnamese Sandwich — For Breakfast

1Photo: Courtesy of Food52.
I buy pork belly compulsively whenever I see it. This would be a problem, except that it doesn’t show up in our market very often. And, whether de rigueur, passé, or somewhere in between, pork belly is delicious and surprisingly versatile.
Even though there are a number of ways to cook with pork belly, I nearly always use it for the same thing: pork belly bánh mì. The bánh mì, that brilliant Vietnamese flavor-bomb of a sandwich, has become an icon. It’s a sandwich rock star — colorful, a little over-the-top (but still classy), with a broad base of adoring fans, myself included. The last time I was making a pork belly bánh mì, I thought to myself the same thing I do every time I prepare pork belly: “This is what bacon is made from. I wonder if I could just use bacon?” This time, that thought was followed by an even better thought: “What if I use bacon and turn my bánh mì into a breakfast sandwich?!”
It turns out that this is not an original thought, and that adding an egg to a bánh mì is far from uncommon (on the contrary: egg is one of the more traditional fillings). But then, I went the extra mile and introduced an English muffin to the situation. This extra mile is almost certainly a blasphemous one, given that the name bánh mì actually refers directly to the baguette-like bread the sandwiches are made with. Switching in an English muffin is like taking an awkward tweedy Englishman (think Hugh Grant in Notting Hill) and dropping him unceremoniously onto a back street somewhere in Vietnam.
2Photo: Courtesy of Food52.
Despite what you might expect, the Englishman actually fares well, quickly making friends with the locals and picking up bits of the language. The English muffin added its amiable malty breadiness to the pickles and spice with remarkable ease. It all just worked, and it made a wonderful breakfast. This has me thinking that perhaps an English muffin can work its breakfast-y magic on any sandwich! I’m coming for you, breakfast cubano...
Bánh Mì-Inspired Breakfast Sandwich
Makes 1 sandwich (scale up to make as many as you want)
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp Sriracha
1 tsp miso
1 toasted English muffin
2 pieces cooked bacon, preferably Sriracha Maple Bacon
Bacon grease or butter for frying the egg
1 large egg
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 handful chopped cilantro
For The Pickled Veggies (makes enough for a few sandwiches)
1 very large carrot, washed and julienned
1⁄2 English cucumber, washed and julienned
1⁄2 daikon radish, washed and julienned
1⁄2 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1⁄2 tbsp sea salt
Stir together the mayonnaise, sriracha, and miso, then spread as much as you want to use (i.e. a generous smear!) on your toasted English muffin. Cut the two pieces of bacon in half and layer them onto the muffin (cutting the bacon in half is not necessary, but it makes it fit the muffin better.)
Use either bacon grease or a bit of butter to fry the egg — with a pinch each of salt and pepper — to your liking, then put this on top of the bacon. Add pickled veggies (instructions below) and cilantro to taste, close up the sandwich, and go to town!
For The Pickled Veggies
Put the carrot, cucumber, and radish into a bowl. Put the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring just to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Take off the heat and pour over the vegetables. Toss the vegetables, then refrigerate them. Let them rest at least 30 minutes (stirring occasionally) before using. These will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple weeks.

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