Banh Mi op La
I need a new camera. And better dishes. And a kitchen with natural light.

Alarm goes off: It’s 6am, once again.

Light is streaming in your windows and you can hear the sounds of the neighborhood waking up around you, making the most of the only part of the day that has both sunlight and fresh, cool air. It won’t last.

If you could, maybe you’d roll over and go back to sleep until a more reasonable hour, but, just like everyone else, you know how hot it’ll get by midday… but for now, the world is a beautiful, comfortable place. Might as well drag yourself out of bed!

Breakfast this morning needs to be the easiest thing you can handle – as little heat as possible, as much flavor as possible, and, preferably, under 10 minutes. And coffee.

Luckily for you, Banh Mi Op La is just about the least complicated homemade breakfast you could imagine. Come along, and learn how to make this incredibly simple and nourishing Vietnamese breakfast with me!

Honestly, it’s so basic, I actually feel a little silly making this a blog post “recipe,” but I’d personally never heard of it before I came here and I know you’ll enjoy it. It was the first meal I had after I arrived in Vietnam and it’s still my favorite breakfast (except for Bo Kho, maybe), precisely because it’s so thoroughly easy to grok and how fast it is.

First things first.

Fresh Baguette

We’re stepping out around the corner to pick up a loaf of freshly-baked French baguette. Shouldn’t cost more than 50 cents or a dollar. I like the loaves that are a little salty on the outside – the better to contrast with the faintly sweet interior, but since we’ll be adding soy sauce/maggi down the line, it doesn’t really matter how salty they are. (Fresh, please! Don’t commit terrorism on yerself, yo!)

Crispy Fried Egg
Fried Crispy Egg for Banh Mi Op La

Having procured fresh baguette (FRESH!!), fire up your stove and a non-stick pan.

We’re gonna make eggs. GOOD eggs. Maybe the best, most delicious, crispy fried egg you’ve ever had. Can you handle it??!

Now that eggs are healthy again, according to the US Government (haha, I love when this happens), we can enjoy an egg several times a week without guilt once more!

Fried Crispy Egg for Banh Mi Op La
Get ’em nice and crunchy!

Like many things in the kitchen, making the perfect crispy fried egg takes a little patience up front. Smitten Kitchen, an entertaining cooking blog I read every so often, has this highly informative guide to making the perfect specimen (H/T to Lejla for that).

I’ll summarize a bit here:

  1. Pan on high heat for a solid minute. Get it HOT. This is the key, I think
  2. Add a glug of oil and wait for it to almost smoke
  3. Add the egg(s), reduce to medium-high heat
  4. The white will bubble and soufflé around the yolk – wait until it’s opaque, about 30s-1m
  5. Remove and plate. It will not give you salmonella.
(In short – it should look a little better than my pitiful attempt up top of this post. It was late and it was my last egg.)
Fried Crispy Egg for Banh Mi Op La
They can get way crispier!
Soy Sauce or Maggi. Chili if you got it.
Sprinkle with soy sauce or Maggi sauce (a soy-less version, which is very good and apparently famous?), maybe a little sriracha or other chili sauce, and presto! Breakfast is served! If you like, sometime sauces are served in a small ramekin for dipping or self-serve flavoring (common here). Serve with fruit and iced tea or juice, and be ready to take on the world by 6:20am.
This has been the first entry in my Market to Table series… more coming soon! With better pictures, and more market!
What’s your favorite Asian breakfast? Gimme, in the comments!