My friend Irene Khin Wong, the owner of Saffron 59 in New York City, inspired this banh mi experiment. A while back, Irene instagrammed a photo of an afternoon tea party that her company had catered for a client. I spotted a pile of lovely tea sandwiches, my favorite part of afternoon tea. We had a little Instagram exchange about banh mi tea sandwiches and that got me thinking: How would it work out? What kind of bread should I use? How would I construct such a small banh mi?
I thought about banh mi tea sandwiches for a while then headed to my kitchen to tinker. Here are a few tips on how I approached making delightful little sandwich bites.
Bread. That was the first consideration. No baguette-type roll would work. I’ve used sliced bread for banh mi before (see the photo on page 109 of The Banh Mi Handbook for a sample idea). To keep the sandwiches together after they’re cut, a relatively dense sliced loaf was needed. It could not be too thick either. So I went to a local bakery that sold white loaves of sandwich bread. I found what was called a “Francese” loaf, which I turned out to be a white bread with a light crisp crust and even, tender crumb – important because I didn’t want big holes in the cutie sandwiches. That would be no bueno.