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"BLT" Croissant Banh Mi

The classic, all-American Bacon Lettuce Tomato Sandwich, a.k.a. “BLT” is definitely one of my all-time favorites of sandwiches, with the also classic Peanut Butter ‘n Jelly, a.k.a. “PBJ” and good ‘ole Grilled Cheese Sandwich sharing equal spots at the top of my list.

So last weekend I decided to try doing a twist on the “BLT” with my new-found favorite sandwich, the French-inspired “fusion” Vietnamese Banh Mi. Where I twisted it even further by using a different bread, switching out the usual French Baguette Roll for an also-French inspired Croissant. This, having heard of the Banh Mi Croissant “switch-a-roo” concept that Ba-Le offers, courtesy of Diner A’s wife. Sounds good!

Without further ado, let’s walk through a very thorough pictorial construction of my “BLT” Croissant Banh Mi creation, starting with a look at the various fresh herbs and veggie ingredients…

From left to right is a bunch each of Mint, Chinese Parsley (a.k.a. Cilantro), Choy Sum, Thai Basil, Japanese Cucumbers and Hamakua Tomatoes, all (except the Hamakua Tomatoes ) purchased at KCC Farmers’ Market. The HUGE bunch of fresh Mint, Cilantro, Choy Sum and Thai Basil were just a dollar each. Nice! The Japanese cucumbers were also a good deal at just $1.69/lb. The Hamakua Tomatoes were purchased Aina Foodland Farms on sale for $2.99/lb.. All this produce, while not labeled “organic”, are farmed locally. which is still a huge PLUS in my book. I must note, I actually didn’t use the Choy Sum in this sandwich, nor did I intend to.  I forgot to take it out of that shot. It was actually for some Oxtail Soup mom made, which was another great story for another post on another day.

Here’s a closer look at them gorgeous and succulent Hamakua Springs Country Farms Tomatoes…

We can’t have a sandwich without bread (unless you’re talking about the notorious KFC ‘Double Down’), where like I mentioned earlier, this time around I’m swapping out the usual Banh Mi roll of choice, the French Baguette, for an also-French (originally Austrian)-inspired Croissant…

Oooh-la-la Mademoiselle. So buttery ‘n delicately flake-like on the crust, while inside is so airy ‘n soft. I already know this gonna’ be GOOD!

There in the shot you also see the most critical “ingrediment” for a proper Banh Mi, which are the pickled Daikon and Carrots called ‘Do Chua’…

I purchased both the Do Chua ($5/8 oz. container) and Croissants ($3/6 large croissants) from Ba-Le Bakery’s tent at KCC Farmers’ Market. Admittedly, the Do Chua is kinda’ a rip-off now at $5 for such a small container, yet thankfully their breads offset that and are still a very good value. If the price of the Do Chua continues to rise (it was  $3 for the same quantity just a year ago), I’ll start making and bottling my own.

Contributing the “B” part in “BLT” is the BACON, where here it is, all cooked ‘n crispy and ready for sandwich duty…

This wasn’t the Maple flavor or my other favorite, the low-fat Turkey Bacon, but just your usual Farmer Johns Hickory Smoked variety.

OK, let’s build this, starting with the croissants cut in half on the chopping board…

Notice I had a greasy smudge on the bottom right corner of my camera lens, so the next few shots are going to look blurry on that part. Sorry ’bout that. Yet also notice the airy and light texture that lay within the buttery-flaky crust of these delectable Ba-Le Bakery Croissant rolls!

What’s funny is, I made these at Mom’s house, where I couldn’t find any mayonnaise in the refrigerator (and I didn’t bother asking where it is) to use as a bread spread. So I chose the next best thing I could immediately find, which was a big ‘ole Costco-issue tub of Philadelphia Cream Cheese!…

Hey, common now, cream CHEESE on a BUTTERY croissant, along with BACON? If that isn’t enough (fatty), ehem, cough-cough, “comfort food” deliciousness for you, I don’t know what is!!! Don’t worry though, you “BLT Purists” out there, I eventually found the Mayo’. Aha! Yet we’ll roll with P.C.C. for now and find out if it all works out being “P.C.”.

What goes on next? The bacon of course..

Just another note on the bacon: I like mine crispy, yet where it still has “give”, and not to the point where it’s practically burnt, all the fat’s rendered off, and  it’s shriveled and breaks apart into crumbs. The level of doneness I have it here is perfect.

For me, what makes a BLT such an ultimate marriage made in heaven sandwich is the acidic and sweet elements the tomatoes bring to the party, which perfectly enhances, balances and punches out the flavor of the salty. That said, next on goes thick strip cuts of locally farmed Hamakua Springs Tomatoes from the Big Island of Hawaii…

As for why I cut the tomatoes this way, I don’t know. Usually I cut the tomatoes right across in thick round-shaped slices.

So we got the “B” and the “T” covered, except in the case it’s not going to be lettuce that puts the “L” in “BLT”, but instead we’ll use the traditional greens that are what make a Vietnamese Banh Mi so distinctively refreshing and multi-dimensional.

That said, next on goes Japanese cucumbers (yeah, sounds odd after saying this is a Vietnamese sandwich), where sticking with the thick julliene cutting style of the tomatoes, I also cut them this way to remain consistent…

Time to get our herb on and really go “green”,  where next on goes whole leaves of cool ‘n snappy mint..

Bringing a licorice-like dimension to the sandwich, next on goes whole leaves of Thai Basil…

Rounding out this herbal explosion of flavors goes the flavor-enhancing Cilantro, a.k.a. Chinese Parsley…

Finally, topping this all off before the capping it with the other half of the Croissant goes a generous helping of the critically necessary Do Chua Vietnamese style pickled daikon and carrots…

The reason it’s important to put the Do Chua on last, is that the sweet-tart pickling juice the daikon and carrots have been sitting in acts as a dressing to all the fresh herbs and veggies piled beneath it as it drips downward, which makes all the greens taste even better than it already is!

That’s it. Put the lid on and voila…

It’s piled pretty high with stuff, so I always pack it down with delicate pressure of my palm so that everything stays in when I pick it up to eat it.

As always, let’s check the cutaway shot…

How is it? Awesome. Amazing. The ball wasn’t just hit out of the park with this sandwich, but straight off the planet into outer space, is how good I think this “BLT” Croissant Banh Mi sandwich tastes!  Nom Nom Truck, if you gals ever read this, you NEED to try this and consider offering it on your menu. I can almost guarantee your customers will LOVE it!

And you know what? The Philadelphia Cream Cheese spread worked out! While Mayonnaise is the standard, the also-fatty, yet less acidic cream cheese brought its A-game here. Does cream cheese ever NOT bring its A-game? Me thinks not!

Anyhow, I eventually found a brand new jar of Best Foods Mayonnaise in the pantry cabinet, so made another “BLT” Croissant Banh Mi, this time with that as the spread…

Comparing the PCC with the BFM, I’d say you can’t go wrong either way, as they both didn’t factor in as a major role in the overall flavor of this bold sandwich. I appreciated the thick, creamy texture and low key cheesy flavor of the cream cheese, while I also appreciated the more classic enhancement the acidic, eggy mayo’ added to the sandwich.

Some Banh Mi “purist” prefer to have Maggi Sauce on their Bahn Mi, but I don’t this one needs it. Just use plenty of Do Chua and that’s your “sauce” right there. Ultimately though, it’s the bold, smokey flavor of the bacon, enhanced and complimented by the sweet and acidic, fruity flavor of the tomatoes, all supported by the buttery flavor and delicately airy texture of the Croissant roll. Winnah, winnah Banh Mi dinnah! Err, lunch that is.

Well, my little experimental “BLT” Croissant Banh Mi sandwich making demonstration today didn’t exactly show off my “mad kitchen skillz”, yet hopefully it at least will inspire you to make one yourself, which I highly recommend you do!

P.S. Next time I’m gonna try making an Ahi Poke Banh Mi Sandwich…


Previously frozen Ahi Limu Poke from Foodland  Farms Aina Haina. $7.99/lb. (half pound shown)

…which I have a feeling is either going to be completely AMAZING or completely DISASTROUS! lol

Speaking of fish, check out this compilation video I shot of what I call “TilaPirhanas” (very HUNGRY tilapias) that live in a brackish salt water pond in the backyard at mom’s place (crank up the speaker volume for the full effect)…

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K5aQCcpdZA

15 thoughts on “"BLT" Croissant Banh Mi

  • November 8, 2010 at 1:03 am
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    Wow, thats crazy! Not the sandwich but the tilapia :)
    I wouldn’t want to put my hand in that pond!!
    Excellent and scrumptious post as per usual.

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  • November 8, 2010 at 6:12 am
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    Wow – A. Sandwich of AMAZING. B. $5 for do chua? You really need to make your own; I’ve done it, and it takes about 20 minutes or so – less if you have a mandoline!

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  • November 8, 2010 at 9:44 am
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    Pomai, well when I was in San Francisco at Traders Joe I had a puff pastry Margaritta Pizza. The butter pastry did not combine well with pizza filling and seasoning it was off. My mom due to dental problem love to eat banh but couldn’t too hard. Try croissant but due butter taste did not go well it distract the other fillings in it. Try soft french roll and it work well.

    Sunny Side Bakery in Wahiawa 1012 or 1017 Kilani St have Banana pie which they catered to Like Like Drive Inn and other places. Now I know to get it there for Thankgiving.

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  • November 8, 2010 at 11:40 am
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    That sandwich is just begging to have avocado slices put on it. Also, do you use a bacon press?

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  • November 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm
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    that sandwich is truly something special….BUT BUT BUT It is not fair to call it a BLT or a Banh Mi. You have uncovered something new and I do beg you to come up with a name that befits this item.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 5:29 am
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    Spotty… you don’t need a bacon press… just bake it in the oven. Comes out perfect every time.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 8:48 am
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    Thanks, Marcus. Baked bacon — I like the sound of that. I feel healthier already. LOL

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  • November 9, 2010 at 9:46 am
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    I see no reason to use mayo or cream cheese at all. This croissant is rich and tasty enough without adding more greasyness to it.
    Besides, like you yourself already said, it doesn’t play a big part in the overall flavour.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 12:08 pm
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    Pomai, I try it with the croissant and it the butter taste I found does not balance well with the pickle condiment in it. As a BLT yes it not bad at all. Banh taste good in a bread that does not a strong taste of it own other wise too busy in your taste bud. But it my own opinion so don’t take my word for it.

    I do remember in 2007 entry of Sunny Side Bakery you did was very good but you did not list baked banana pie in it. I will head there for it and see it good pie to have and order ahead of time to pick up. Will also check Samurai store for their own guri guri ice cream on Oahu.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 2:14 pm
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    Oh Yummy. Guri Guri ice cream on Oahu? Must check it out and get also baked banana pie since it so special.

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  • November 14, 2010 at 6:51 pm
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    That looks delish. I had not heard of Banh Mi before moving to Hawaii, but I am now a convert. A BLT version makes mymwouth water.

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  • November 17, 2010 at 11:35 pm
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    btw pomai….one of my fave banh mi is….the roasted pork banh mi. was thinking back how you loved to make your own island smoke pork. i bet you a smoke pork banh mi would be off-the-chain-good. that alone deserves a write up! :)

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  • November 23, 2010 at 3:52 pm
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    Substituted chili garlic paste for the mayo/cream cheese, added avocado, used the new small “Sweet Tomatoes” from Hamakua Springs (Foodland). Found the Bale croissants at Don Quixote in Kailua. Side dish: the small red sweet marinated peppers at the Foodland olive bar.

    My tongue threw a party for my mouth!

    Next time, gonna saute ahi poke cubes in the bacon fat and add those.

    BTW, thanks (A LOT) for doing what you do. You’ve turned me on to a lot of great food, like the grilled WOW farms pizza, Dean’s beef teriyaki, and all that ramen (have you tried the Charsiu Shoyu ramen at Rai Rai Ramen in Kailua?).

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  • February 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm
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    This is such a good website!
    You have a great blog with great pictures…and I like your step by step.
    One of my favorite food blog website…good job!
    now i go look for comments on musubi’s and other rice “ball” stuff. awesome!

    Reply

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