Monday, April 20, 2009

Banh Bo Nuong

Banh Bo Nuong

Saigon Deli, $1.50

Carried into the Saigon Deli on a tide of lunchtime traffic, I washed up in front of a table covered in plastic-wrapped desserts. I chose a huge wedge of alien-looking cake with golden skin and grass-green flesh the texture of lung tissue. When I asked the guy at the counter to identify the unlabeled slab for me, he shrugged: "Just green cake."

Thankfully, the all-knowing internet was able to provide more detail.
Banh bo nuong turns out to be a fairly common Vietnamese treat, similar in composition to sponge cakes enjoyed throughout Southeast Asia. This
recipe reveals that a combination of tapioca flour, single-acting baking powder, and numerous eggs gives bahn bo nuong its singularly succulent texture; coconut milk contributes a rich sweetness and pandan (screwpine) extract accounts for the chlorphyllic color and slightly herbal flavor.

Since it seemed like the done thing, I also bought my first-ever Vietnamese sandwich. I'd never really understood their appeal (slabs of tofu on white bread?) but oh, my! Now I see the light. It was like the innards of the best spring roll in the world had been re-housed inside a perfectly crunchy baguette: julienned vegetables, seared tofu, and a mouth-tingling sauce. And the cake, sandwich, and an iced Vietnamese coffee came to $5! Saigon Deli, you haven't seen the last of me.

Saigon Deli
1237 South Jackson Street
Seattle, WA

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