Chefs in the City Week 3A: Tenderloin - Bánh Mì

One of our rituals at The Breakfast Project is to start each class with an herbal tisane. This week our tea was made from lemongrass, an herb commonly used in Asian cooking. During our opening circle, we looked at our map of the city and discussed the funny, culinary arts-evoking name of the Tenderloin neighborhood and learned about the influx of Vietnamese refugees who landed in this area of San Francisco after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.

The stretch of Larkin Street between Eddy and O’Farrell is now officially designated Little Saigon and is a great place to find the classic Vietnamese breakfast sandwich bánh mì. Students immediately asked why there were baguettes and mayonnaise involved, which led us to talk about the history of French Indochina and its lasting impact on Vietnamese cuisine.

We made our own mayonnaise starting with a simple egg yolk. We also had fun slicing carrots and watermelon radish into matchstick shapes for pickles. Each class made several containers of pickles for the next day’s class so that the vegetables had time overnight in the fridge to absorb the flavors of the pickling medium. We topped our sandwiches with fresh cucumber and plenty of cilantro, and had a few leftover each day for some special deliveries to our beloved HMCRA staff!