My stomach and I have come to an understanding. We agree that Thanksgiving is for gravy, cranberries, and an overload of sage, cinnamon and thyme. We’ll eat and eat, and we won’t care that our food piles are touching and mixing. When else would cranberries and green beans get together?
But by the morning after, my stomach and I need a break from those savory Thanksgivingy flavors. Instead we’re craving crunch, spice and zippiness—and maybe a slice of cold pumpkin pie.
The Vietnamese bánh mì—with its fresh and pickled vegetables, herbs, condiments and meats (or tofu)—has been my inspiration for pulling my stomach and me right out of that post-Thanksgiving sage-and-cinnamon-and-thyme rut. With leftover turkey and turkey liver pâté as its foundation, my own bánh mì is certainly more American than Vietnamese. That said, I encourage you to turn to the experts for the history and evolution of this beautiful sandwich.
The best baguette for a bánh mì is light and squishy with a crispy exterior. It’s a little hard to track down, so I (begrudgingly) use whatever I can find.
Then there are the condiments. There’s usually mayonnaise, and maybe a couple of dashes of Maggi seasoning and chili sauce.
On goes a generous spread of that turkey liver pâté. A traditional bánh mì will most likely have a slab of pâté—though I have seen versions that use a spread (see Bánh Mì Ba Lẹ in Dorchester, MA). Then comes a pile of leftover cold turkey.
The herbs, vegetables and pickles are next. Cilantro, jalapeño and cucumber are the usual suspects, though I usually leave out the cucumber this time of year. The pickles are a funky mix of julienned carrot and daikon radish in a brine of salt, sugar, and rice wine vinegar. They’re crunchy and bright, and they’ll cut right through yesterday’s Thanksgiving gravy.
If you’re hungry, you can make the pickles as soon as 30 minutes before diving into your bánh mì. Though if you can wait a couple of hours to overnight, they’ll develop much more of their flavor.
Pile on as much or as little of the ingredients as you’d like. The fresh, tangy and spicy flavors of the herbs and vegetables cut right through the rich and savory meats and condiments. It’s a friendly and delicious mess of flavors so different, yet so perfect together—kind of like those green beans and cranberries on on your Thanksgiving plate.
Your leftover turkey and your stomach will both thank you for making this sandwich. And by Saturday, you’ll be renewed and ready to tackle those sage-and-cinnamon-and-thyme-y leftovers!
This sandwich is an American, use-what-you’ve-got variation on the Vietnamese bánh mì. Its fresh, tangy and spicy flavors cut right through your leftover turkey and turkey liver pâté, yielding a not-so-Thanksgivingy solution to Thanksgiving leftovers!
1 sandwich-sized baguette (light, crisp & airy, if you can find one)
small pile leftover turkey
2 heaping spoonfuls leftover turkey liver pâté
handful pickled carrot and daikon radish (recipe below)
small handful fresh cilantro
3-5 slices jalapeño
2 spoonfuls mayonnaise (Kewpie, if you can find it)
Maggi seasoning, to taste
chili sauce, to taste (optional)
small handful sliced cucumber (optional)
Pickled Carrot and Daikon Radish (by Serious Eats):
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
1 medium daikon radish, peeled and julienned
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp Kosher salt
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
Place the julienned carrot and radish in a medium bowl along with the salt and sugar. Massage the vegetables until the salt and sugar have dissolved. The carrot and radish will have wilted slightly.
Pack the vegetables and their rendered liquid into a jar and pour in the vinegar and water. Store the jar in the refrigerator until ready to use (30 minutes is my sweet spot).
Preheat oven to 350°. Halve the baguette lengthwise and warm it in the oven for a minute or two.
Smear the baguette with mayonnaise and optional chili sauce. Add a couple of dashes of Maggi to each side. Spread the pâté over the bread and top with a small heap of turkey. Pile on the cilantro, jalapeños, pickles and optional cucumber. Close the sandwich, take a huge bite, and adjust the proportions to your liking.