vietnamese


On this sunny Sunday, Nathan and I joined some friends (as well as the entire city of San Francisco, it seemed) in Golden Gate Park for some free live music, courtesy of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Really, how can we turn down a line-up of Bonnie Prince Billy, Iron & Wine, and Gogol Bordello? And of course, you must know by now that I would never even think of setting out for a day in the park without packing some rations. Due to lack of time, though, we decided to just walk through the Sunset and buy some Vietnamese sandwiches to snack on. Which then reminded me that I have delayed blogging about Banh Mi for far too long.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t discover the glories of Banh Mi until I started living on a grad student budget. Until I tasted my first Banh Mi, I would never have believed that a hearty, delicious lunch can be had for $3-$3.50 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now that my eyes have been opened, I’m totally obsessed and can seriously eat one of these every day and be happy as a kitty.

You might wonder with Banh Mi already so cheap, why would you even want to make your own? Well, because this cruel, cruel world has decided not to put Vietnamese sandwich shops anywhere near my school! So until the school’s cafe wises up, I either have to trek downtown every afternoon or to take more drastic measures and make Banh Mi at home.

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I’ve been making these Vietnamese summer rolls (or spring rolls, whichever you prefer) a lot lately. I first had a craving for them on a particularly hot day since it requires minimal stove time and makes for a refreshing light dinner. Besides, Nathan had bought a bag of frozen shrimps for a Thai curry or something, so I saw it as my duty to help clean out the freezer.

Then just last week, my lab was treated to a celebration dinner at Incanto, one of my favorite restaurants in the city, where we got to partake in a Whole Beast Feast. The whole beast in question was an 85 lb piggie and needless to say, it was both delicious and unforgettable. But as it turned out, our lab eyes were way bigger than our lab stomachs, leaving us with box after box of leftover roast pork. Vietnamese spring rolls come to the rescue again, as I substituted shredded roast pork for shrimp.

Finally, just today while looking for a snack during housecleaning, I stared into a fridge that I’m trying to clear out before our Boston trip next week. I spotted a random piece of fried tofu left over from a round of sandwich making, and that became Vietnamese summer rolls round #3.

Before I forget, thank you to my former roomie Kim for teaching me how to make these!

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