I, like most of you, love banh mi. And while it truly is perhaps the best "bang for your buck" food item sold at restaurants, one of those rare things that are just cheaper to buy rather than attempting to make your own at home, some of us like a challenge.
I have tried, rather successfully I should admit, at re-creating a classic French baguette at home (thanks to King Arthur Flour's recipes, no less), but have utterly failed at the Vietnamese version. I have scoured the internet and have found out that I am not alone. I have a feeling that these are one of those elusive type of breads in which the recipe (and technique) are closely guarded secrets which no one will reveal.
The general conclusion that I have come to is that these breads can only be produced with expensive, commercial grade ovens that have steam injection and other high-end features. But then, I thought the same thing about French baguettes, which actually can made in a home oven provided that you have a baking stone. Then to make things more interesting, after a recent early morning visit to Trung Nam in St. Paul, I noticed the baker putting the shaped raw baguettes into what looked like a 1980's deck oven. So apparently, these do not need any fancy shmancy equipment to make.
So it must come down to ingredients. I have tried them with a combination of AP flour/rice flour, plain AP flour/cooked rice, AP flour with milk and baking soda, and many combinations of these, but they all turn out dense and hard. I even tried using pastry flour, high-gluten bread flour, etc., etc.
I know I am probably barking up the wrong tree, but have any of you had any success making these at home? If you do have a "secret" recipe, I do not expect you to announce it on Chow, but I just need to know if they are in fact possible to make at home.
It will make me sleep better at night. :)