August 24, 2012
Yeah, that’s right, read that title: It’s a SOFT SHELL CRAB BANH MI.
First off, why isn’t this amazingly ridiculous sandwich sold in its entirety already? Why did it take an article by Serious Eats New York for this creation to come to to light?! Seriously people, there’s a market for this sandwich! (Btw, just for clarification, when I say “market”, I mean me.)
…Okay, now that my quickie rant is over, honestly, this sandwich is not that hard to put together:
- Buy a deep fried soft shell crab.
- Buy a vegetable banh mi sandwich.
Banh Mi Saigon
The bread had great texture – it had a nice crust on the outside but was still soft and fluffy on the inside. The vegetables were fresh – the cucumber was crispy and the pickled radishes and carrots were tangy. Lastly, when I asked for some spice, they delivered – halfway through, my lips were tingling from the sriracha and jalapenos. It had all the components of a great banh mi (minus the meat)…not sure if I can ask for anything more from a vegetarian sandwich!
Banh Mi Saigon Bakery
198 Grand St
New York, NY 10013
So, I have a secret. See that plastic takeout box above? The one with the crab? That’s actually not one soft shell crab. There are TWO in there.
See, I was in a good mood when the day I decided to recreate this sandwich. A really, really good mood. So when the lady at Great NY Noodletown asked me whether I wanted one soft shell crab or one order of soft shell crabs (1 order = 2 crabs), of course I said I wanted one full order. I mean, you can’t have too much of a good thing, right?! (In retrospect, this was not such a good idea, but I’ll get into the details later.)
Dredged in cornstarch and then deep-fried, these “salt-baked” crabs are absolutely delicious. I could have just taken a single bite straight out of the middle, through the crust and into the warm meaty body, and called it a day. However, I kept my eye on the prize and soldiered onward…
Great N.Y. Noodletown
28 1/2 Bowery, New York
Canal Street, NY 10013
(The finished product. An epic sandwich.)
There is no way to prepare for the awesomeness that occurs when the above components are eaten together. Yes, you can imagine tasting a soft shell crab banh mi in your head, but it’s not just the same in person. Upon that first bite, you get a little bit of everything…salt, pepper, vinegar…warm crab, cold pickles, soft bread…it’s absolutely ridiculous.
Which brings me back to the crab issue: DO NOT BUY TWO CRABS. Why? Because you cannot physically stuff an entire soft shell crab into half of a baguette without compromising the ratio of veggies to crab. Its little fried legs just will not fit, and you’ll find yourself biting into pure crab more often than not. (Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but you’re supposed to be eating a sandwich, not an actual crab. ) Additionally, most people can’t eat an entire banh mi sandwich and two soft shell crabs in one sitting. If you let those crabs sit out too long, they get soggy…and no one likes soggy crabs.
TL;DR: Only one crab per sandwich. It’s worth it.