Bánh mì's in Nam are hit or miss. It starts with the bread. Part wheat flour [sometimes rice flour is mixed in]- a proper loaf is light, with a crispy crust and pillowy [not dense] belly. Day old Banh Mi (such as those left to die in Hồ Chí Minh's 96 degree heat and wilting humidity for 10 hours) are brittle and withered excuses for bread that would cause even the most humble Frenchman to wet the bed. Ingredients as well, deteriorate with time and heat exposure. That's why when you spot a bánh mì Chả cá stand on the southern coastal town of Bà Rịa frying up fish cakes in 2 month old oil- you pull over your moto and slap your butt in that plastic stool.
Chả cá is essentially fried fish paste. Fish flesh is mashed like potatoes and then given the Vietnamese seasoning treatment- black pepper, fish sauce and most likely MSG- before getting a dunk in screaming hot oil. You see Chả cá at many a stand but you can't beat hot out of the wok.
Haven't thrown up a vid in quite some time..might get back in the swing of things. Here's a snippet of me interviewing the bánh mì ladies and asking all the essential questions regarding my ensuing snack, such as "Do you have a husband?" and "Are your children handsome?"
Along with the standard cucumbers, pickled carrots and radishes bánh mì Chả cá usually gets a handful of rau răm which, "according to experts" is said to cure acne, indigestion, flatulence and suppress sexual desires. Every mans dream!!
bánh mì Chả cá
Thành phố Bà Rịa