Bento no. 80: Deconstructed banh mi sandwich bento


Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 510 cal (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 5-10 minutes in the morning from pre-made components

Type: Sort-of-Vietnamese (Asian), bread based

A new Complete Bento finally! If you're new to Just Bento, a Complete Bento post around here means that the calorie and amount for each item is listed, plus recipes or links to the recipes of all components, even the box I used. I do write about a lot of other bentos too, but Complete Bentos really give you the whole picture. What with all the travelling I've been doing to promote The Book and everything, I haven't had the time to do one of these in a good while. (And speaking of the book, a version of this deconstructed bánh mi sandwich bento appears in there too, but with different components.)

Anyway, I am fond of carrying my sandwiches in deconstructed form, where the fillings are carried separately from the bread and assembled just before eating. (See Complete Bentos no. 6, no. 24 and no. 74.) No other sandwich is this method more appropriate for than the Vietnamese bánh mi sandwich.

The things that make a bánh mi a bánh mi, in my opinion, are the crispy light baguette and the combination of rich-tasting meat filling with crispy-crunchy-sour vegetable filling. But if you make a bánh mi to go, hours later when you're ready to eat it the bread has turned all soggy, even if you do smear on a moisture barrier (usually a mixture of butter and mayonnaise). But if you carry along the components in a bento box, you can have a fresh-tasting, crispy bánh mi that you've made yourself, with just the parts that you like. And sure, a bánh mi is pretty cheap, but you can do it even cheaper by using leftovers and stock items!

This not-quite-authentic but still very tasty version has the homemade Rafute rillettes that I posted about over on Just Hungry as the meat. On its own, shredded pork looks grey-brown and blah, so I've dressed it up a bit with green parsley and yellow lemon rind strips - a simple yet effective decoration. If you're not up to simmering pork belly for hours ^_^;, shredded barbequed pork would be a great subsitute. If pork is not your thing, any kind of assertively flavored meat would be good here. Leftover roast something would be perfect.


The crisp-crunchy-sour-sweet pickle-salad is decorated with the 'migrating birds' cutouts that I described in the recipe post. Again, another very simple but I think effective decoration! The radish pickles are also sour-salty to counteract the richness of the rilettes.


The mini-baguette (it's about 7 inches / 22cm long, and is called a parisette around here) was carried wrapped in a paper napkin, then in a paper bag, pre-sliced for convenience. Here's how the sandwich looks assembled before the lid part goes on. The garnish is put to use too! (And yes, I did use parsley and not coriander. I like coriander/cilantro, but we have a member of the family who can't stand it.)


And here it is all assembled and ready go to. Yep it dripped. I used paper napkins and the now-empty bento box to catch the drips.


The bento box I used


This is the same shape as the Ponyo box I used for no. 75. I like both because they have lots of inner dividers built in. It makes it easy to keep the food packed therein organized. I must say I am not overly fond of the too-bright red of this Hello Kitty model, but the Kitty herself accented with gold is rather cute. The box comes with a pair of chopsticks, a bento band and a matching drawstring bag. It used to be available from J-List/JBox, but isn't anymore it seems - however this one looks like it's the same box with a different design on the lid. The white Ponyo box is still available.

The paper napkins are from Ikea - I just realized I've been using them for several bentos recently. What can I say...those napkin packs from Ikea are very nice, but huge.

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