This Banh Mi Op La recipe, which is essentially a banh mi or Vietnamese sandwich with omelette, is a great breakfast or brunch dish combining the Southeast Asian classic breakfast of grilled pork with the addition of an omelette all wrapped up in a baguette.
Banh Mi Op La Recipe — Hoi An Style Banh Mi with Omelette
We had been going to our favourite banh mi stand, Bánh Mì Phuong, in Hoi An for a couple of weeks into our three month stay in the Central Vietnam port town, when a local friend suggested we ask the ladies to make us their bánh mì ốp la (also written as ‘banh mi opla’ sometimes) instead of our usual banh mi ‘with the lot’ (see our banh mi recipe).
While the translation of ‘op la’ best equates to the French ‘oeufs au plat’, what arrived was not fried eggs on our baguettes, but a French-style omelette made with two eggs and a dash of fish sauce and black pepper.
We should probably be calling this banh mi op la recipe a Hoi An style banh mi op la, because if you ordered banh mi op la outside the charming riverside town you would get a very different type of Vietnamese sandwich. The more correct term would be bánh mì trứng and you could ask for this and get you the same thing.
It’s very different to bánh mì ốp la Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City, where you’d probably receive a metal pan with fried eggs and sausage tossed on top with a baguette on the side. Not exactly an inspiring dish, unless you have a craving for a simplified English fry up.
Vendors in Hanoi also do banh mi with omelettes, but they’re a decidedly more simple affair compared to those in Hoi An, made for eating on the run. Generally you’ll get a baguette filled with cucumber, chillies, coriander (cilantro to our American readers), and a dash of soy sauce. It’s a tasty but rather utilitarian version compared to the more extravagant version in Hoi An.
There’s a great and very straightforward recipe for the Hanoi style banh mi with omelette in this Vietnamese Street Food cookbook.
While this banh mi with omelette became our go-to order at Bánh Mì Phuong for a while, we didn’t order it if the stall was too busy as it took one of the ladies off the production line of assembling the banh mi for the long queue of customers they mostly had.
However, Lara would soon learn on the Last Great Taste of Hoi An street food tour that banh mi op la was the specialty of the lovely old Madame Khanh, whom tour operator Neville Dean had nicknamed (and made famous as) ‘the Bahn Mi Queen’.
And Madame Khanh’s bahn mi op la was even better than Phuong’s omelette baguette. In a tiny pan over a fierce flame this dear little old lady deftly and very quickly made an omelette using just a pair of chopsticks. It was quite a thing to behold.
So… decent slices of char siu pork, an omelette, and plenty of hot Hoi An chilli sauce is the basis of this Hoi An style banh mi op la recipe. Madame Khanh only sparingly used her homemade pâté, and no pickled carrot, just daikon radish, cucumber and coriander, all used quite frugally.
- 1 demi-baguette
- 2 eggs
- vegetable oil
- fish sauce
- pork liver pâté
- 1 cucumber, sliced thin
- ¼ bunch coriander
- 1 banana chilli, thinly sliced
- handful of pickled carrots and daikon
- decent slices of char siu pork (belly, tenderloin or both)
- chilli sauce or chilli paste to taste
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
- Place the baguettes in the oven until warm — usually about a minute.
- Slice the baguette lengthways but don’t cut all the way through.
- Break the eggs into a small bowl and whisk lightly, add a dash of fish sauce and a little pepper. Don’t add salt, the fish sauce is salty enough.
- Add a tablespoon of vegetable to an omelette pan over medium-high heat, add the eggs and make an omelette following the directions in this post.
- Spread a little pâté on the bottom half of the baguette and mayonnaise on the top half.
- Add the cucumber slices on top of the pâté, the omelette and then slices of the char siu pork.
- Add the chilli slices, pickled carrots and daikon and then the coriander.
- Add chilli sauce or chilli paste to your taste.
- Eat immediately!
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