Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Banh Mi a la Mexicana

I started eating lots of things with flowers recently because of an emailed recipe I received for zucchini blossom tacos. Those were so delicious that I then tried zucchini blossom quesadillas, hibiscus flower tacos, and now...drumroll, por favor ... flor de calabaza banh mi!! In plain English, that's a zucchini blossom Vietnamese Sandwich. (click on the link to learn more about "banh mi OCD")


In the traditional banh mi sandwich, there's some type of grilled meat, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeños, pickled carrots and daikon, paté, and mayonnaise -- all bound up in a crusty baguette. Thanks to the French for their introduction of paté and baguettes to Vietnamese cuisine. In banh mi a la Mexicana, there is a sautéed mixture of flor de calabaza, red onion, and jalepeño, cilantro, cucumber, pickled carrots and jicama, and mayonnaise -- sandwiched between a fresh bolillo.

Making something like this a year ago would have been a bacterial nightmare for me, but over time, I stopped disinfecting my vegetables, put my trust in DF water, and returned to eating with ease all my favorite Asian foods like pad thai, pho, and banh mis. Only time will tell if this strategy is working for me. :) Even if you're a religious vegetable disinfecter, this is a sandwich worth disinfecting all those vegetables for. Here's my rough recipe:

Banh Mi a la Mexicana


Zucchini blossoms, 1 bunch
1/2 red onion, sliced lengthwise
1-2 jalapeño, deseeded, deveined, and sliced lengthwise
Cucumber, halved, deseeded, and cut in pieces, lengthwise
Pickled carrots and jicama (recipe below)
4 bolillo buns

In an oiled pan, sauté the onions and jalapeño. Two minutes before taking it off the heat, add the zucchini blossoms. Sauté together until blossoms are wilted. Salt as desired.

Half the bun and mayo both sides (paté one side if you're feeling lavish). Stack on the veggies and sautéed mixture, and enjoy!! And shall I suggest something completely Mexican -- a side of rajas??

Pickled Carrots and Daikon:

1 1/2 cups julienned carrots
1 1/2 cups julienned jicama
1 tsp salt
2 tsp + 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups vinegar
1 cup water

Place carrots and jicama in a colander. Sprinkle the salt and 2 tsp of sugar over the shredded carrots and jicama, and knead in the salt and sugar until the carrots and jicama soften. Once pliable, rinse the carrots and jicama, and squeeze out any remaining water. Place in a glass jar.

Dissolve 1/2 sugar into the vinegar and water. Pour into glass jar. Refrigerate for at least one hour (or overnight for better results).

In Mexico, I like to hoard my jars for occasions such as this.


  1. Oh my god. I just read this and said, "Oh no she di-idn't!" Please, please let's have a banh mi a la Mexicana session when I come home. I've been dying to make some.

  2. They were supremely good. So good, in fact, that I ate two in one sitting and then felt the effects. And so good that I ate banh mis for three days in a row.

  3. Alice,

    That looks incredible! Everytime we go back to Toronto, we have to have Banh Mis. What's the shopping like in D.F. for asian products? Its getting better here in Chapala and even Guadalajara its very limited.

    I grow my own lemongrass, peppermint, spearmint, basil and rau ram.

  4. I've been able to find most everything I want, though things are typically 1.5-2 times more expensive. Here are some of the places I shop: