This sandwich was SO HARD to photograph. It just did not want to behave. I’ve been making a version of this sandwich once or twice a week for the past month, and they’ve all been docile and well-constructed and probably totally photogenic. Then I finally got around to charging my camera battery and made myself a sandwich specifically to photograph. This one decided to fall apart every time I put it down.
Once again, I beg you to ignore the photo. Because this right here? Is one phenomenal sandwich. I first had it at a sandwich shop near where I used to work, and fell in love. After almost a year of craving it since leaving that job, I finally managed to recreate it at home. It’s got the sunny chewiness of scrambled egg, which I like so much better than the pork you usually find in a banh mi. On top of the egg, add lots of utterly compelling things: pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber sticks, jalapeno slices, cilantro leaves, and lots of spicy mayo. It’s hot and cold, sweet and sour, crunchy and chewy, spicy and rich–everything there is to love about banh mi.
I call this a “scrambled egg” sandwich, but what really fills its belly is a simple flat omelet. At the sandwich stand, they’d steam the eggs in a special container in the microwave, creating a eggy half-moon. To replicate that effect, I beat the eggs and add them to a lightly oiled skillet over medium-low heat. Then I let them cook, completely undisturbed, until they’ve set into a springy, slightly puffed disc. (This usually takes about 15 minutes on my stove, which leaves plenty of time to leisurely prep the other sandwich ingredients.) Slide the disc out of the skillet, cut it in half, et voila–two eggy half-moons, ready to slide between halves of bread.
So much for the egg. There’s one other bit of advance prep needed for this sandwich: pickling some carrots and daikon. I made up a quart of refrigerator pickles, following a recipe from the New York Times, and have it handy in the fridge for whenever the banh mi craving strikes. You could also make a batch of fifteen-minute quick pickles, which will be ready in about the time it takes the eggs to cook. Either way, you’ve got the makings of one satisfying lunch.
Scrambled Egg Banh Mi (makes 2 sandwiches)
Inspired by Saigon Deli Express
Note: You can use basically any kind of sandwich roll or French bread/baguette for banh mi. Fresh is good, but cheap is fine. If you can, look for something sturdy but not super-crusty–I’ve used torpedo rolls and supermarket French bread with great success.
1 tsp unsalted butter or neutral cooking oil
4 large eggs
Large pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup mayonnaise, or to taste
1 tbsp Sriracha or other hot sauce, or to taste
Soy sauce, fish sauce, or Worcestershire sauce to taste
Granulated sugar or honey to taste
2 sandwich rolls or hunks of French bread (see note)
1-2 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
Pickled daikon and carrot (a couple generous forkfuls), drained and patted dry
English cucumber, julienned (a handful or two)
Fresh cilantro leaves (a handful or two)
In a small nonstick skillet, heat butter or oil over medium-low heat. While the pan heats, thoroughly beat eggs, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Use a paper towel to wipe an even layer of fat over the bottom of the pan. Add the eggs and cook, undisturbed, for about 15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked through and have formed a springy, omelet-like disc. Transfer the egg-disc to a cutting board and cut it in half.
While the eggs cook, whisk together mayonnaise, hot sauce, soy sauce/fish sauce/Worcestershire sauce, and sugar/honey in a small bowl. Slice the bread in half lengthwise, leaving a little bit attached on one side. Open up each piece of bread and scoop out some of the insides to make room for the fillings. Brush the mayonnaise mixture evenly over the bread.
Optional step: Turn broiler to high and position a rack about 6 inches from the heat source. Lay the bread out on a baking sheet, mayo side up, and broil for 1-3 minutes, or until toasted around the edges.
Lay half of the egg-disc in each roll. Top with jalapeno slices, pickled daikon and carrot, cucumber sticks, and cilantro leaves. Drizzle over a little extra hot sauce, if desired. Close up the sandwich, cut it in half if you like, and devour.