there’s a fantastic Vietnamese restaurant two blocks from my office. they make Banh Mi sandwiches at lunchtime and they are the tastiest sandwiches i’ve ever sunk my teeth into!… a light French sandwich roll, airy inside and with a crisp, crackly crust, is layered with grilled chicken, flavorful shredded pork, or pork meatballs, and topped with a spicy, creamy sauce, crisp-pickled carrot slaw, and plenty of cilantro leaves and fresh jalapeno slices (not a Vietnamese chile, but delicious), which they will bring on the side if you prefer less heat. the fresh slaw is slightly sweet, and each bite is spicy and vibrant, scattering crunchy bread crumbs as juicy drips from the meatballs (my favorite) land on the plate.Vietnamese food rules at being spicy/sweet/savory all at the same time, which is my favorite way to eat. this sandwich packs a punch. a fantastic meaty punch.
making this sandwich at home is a sinch, and it’s just as heavenly!! i made these for dinner two nights in a row last week cause it’s one of my favorite sandwiches ever! although i have a special place in my heart for the BLT, it’s hard to top a Banh Mi for intense flavor, contrasting texture and general awesomeness.
i’m really excited to share a simple recipe for an outstanding sandwich… Americanized, with easily-accessible ingredients. for this i shopped at my favorite 24-hour low-price grocery, not a fancy place, so i’m confident you’ll be able to find these ingredients easily as well.
(“Banh Mi” is kind of a general term for sandwich bread in Vietnamese, so Banh Mi Xiu Mai would be a more specific way to name this sandwich made with pork patties or meatballs. but for what you’ll find here in the US, assume Banh Mi to mean any sandwich of this style regardless of filling. most restaurants will offer plenty of meat or egg filling choices.)
Vietnamese-style banh mi sandwichesadapted from Bon Appetit serves 2
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- sriracha (rooster sauce) or hot chili sauce to taste — start with a tablespoon
combine ingredients in a small container. taste for preferred level of spiciness. can be made one day ahead, kept covered in the fridge.
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (found in the Asian foods aisle)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sriracha (rooster sauce) or hot chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
heat oven to 300. mix all ingredients together. gently shape into meatballs of about a tablespoon each, keeping the mixture as loose as possible (don’t pack or press). set aside on a rimmed baking sheet.
heat a large skillet with a touch of oil over medium-high. gently add the meatballs and let them sit until browned on one side. begin turning or tossing until browned all over. return to baking sheet and slide into oven until cooked through, about 12 minutes. this is a great time to heat up your sandwich bread or roll in the oven (see last step).
quick-pickled carrot slaw:
- 1 cup coarsely grated carrots
- 1 cup peeled, coarsely grated peeled daikon (sometimes called Japanese white radish; at my grocery they are near the turnips and beets. looks similar to a giant white carrot)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (from the Asian-foods aisle)
combine and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. leftovers keep well in the fridge (so you can make more sandwiches later!!).
- 2 8-inch long pieces of a light French baguette or 2 French rolls (avoid sourdough or overly chewy breads. i like to grab two rolls that are sold in bulk, usually near the bagels and donuts)
- 1 jalapeno chile, thinly sliced
- handful cilantro leaves