VIETNAM — popular street food bánh mì, an airy wheat roll lavishly filled with meat, vegetables and sauces is largely responsible for the large boom in demand for baked goods in Vietnam.

Vietnam has a growing appetite for baked products. According to Statista, the average per capita consumption is already 31.4 kg, and the growth rate is expected to increase by 4.86% annually through 2026.

According to the Statistics Portal, revenue in the Bread & Bakery Products segment amounts had reached US$632million in 2019 and the market is expected to grow annually by 8.6%.

Of these figures, baked foods like sandwich, toast or flat bread play only a negligible role in the Vietnamese cuisine.

Bánh mì is a classic away-from-home meal. In every city, countless snack stalls, mobile cookshops, fast-food chains and restaurants stand ready to serve their customers with a substantial bánh mì.

Traditionally, bánh mìs are filled lavishly with pork pâté, grilled belly of pork and Vietnamese sausage. These are accompanied by cucumbers, pickled vegetables, herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, meatballs, cheese or omelette, just as the customer wishes.

The flavor is rounded off with hot chili dips, spicy barbecue sauces or creamy mayonnaise. It is this unique mixture of sweet and sour, spicy and mild, and hot and cold that magically transforms an ordinary filled roll into a Vietnamese specialty full of contrasts.

Although the filling of a bánh mì can vary greatly according to the region and personal tastes, the roll is a standard high volume, delicately flaking, translucent crust with a silky-soft crumb.

In addition to the feel of the roll, freshness is also paramount. Therefore, street stalls fetch their bakery products fresh from an artisan bakery every day.

As a rule, all-purpose flour with a medium protein content is used. The imported wheat comes mainly from Australia and the United States.

Traditionally, a vitamin C tablet is dissolved in the water used in preparing the dough.

Most Vietnamese bakers adhere firmly to this tradition even though the flour is usually fortified with ascorbic acid and other highly functional flour improvers at the mills.

The baking process takes five hours and is finished properly when the bánh mì makes a crackling sound on removal from the oven, caused by the cool air meeting the hot bread, cracking the crust.

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