What are Banh Mi?
In Vietnamese, ‘banh mi’ literally means bread, and generally refers to a short baguette, which was introduced to the country by the French. Usually, the baguette is filled with savory ingredients and served as a meal.
The most well known combination consists of Vietnamese cold cuts, cilantro, cucumber, chili, pickled carrots and daikon, along with common French condiments such as pâté and mayonnaise, but you can fill these baguettes with just about anything you want. There are Vietnamese banh mi shops in the United States which offer multiple varieties of banh mi, all delicious.
This is a simplified version of the popular pork roll, and is endlessly customizable to your preferences.
Substitutions and Additions
If you don’t eat pork you could use chicken breast instead. You may just need to adjust the cooking time. You can also make this dish vegetarian by using extra firm tofu instead of the pork. Cut into bite sized pieces and marinate as directed in the recipe, then cook on medium heat until golden on all sides.
If desired you can include mint or fresh chilis, and daikon would be a great addition to the pickled carrots and onions (or a substitution if preferred).
If you are unable to find fresh lemongrass, see if you can find it in a tube. It’s what I use most of the time since I can’t usually get it fresh at my local supermarket and I haven’t wanted to go to extra places to seek out ingredients during COVID. If you cannot find lemongrass in any form, you could just omit it, or try finely grating in about a teaspoon of lemon zest. It is not the same, but it’s worked well for me in the past.
Making Ahead and Leftovers
The great thing about this recipe is that most of the work can be done the night before. Marinate the pork, prepare the pickled carrot and onion and combine the mayonnaise and sriracha. Store everything in the fridge and then all you need to do for dinner the next day is cook the pork and do a bit of chopping. You could even cook the pork in advance if you want, as these sandwiches taste great cold.
The pickled carrot and onion will keep well in the fridge for at least a few days, if you have any leftover. I like adding it to sandwiches with ham or eggs.
How to Make Banh Mi
In a shallow dish or ziplock bag, mix together all the marinade ingredients — the lemongrass, garlic, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce and peanut oil. Add the pork and turn to coat all over. Refrigerate overnight or, if you are pressed for time, at least a couple of hours.
Make Pickled Carrot and Onion
In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved, then remove from heat and leave to cool. I usually do this first, and then slice the carrot and onion. By the time I’m done with that the vinegar mixture is lukewarm, which is good enough. You just don’t want it super hot. Add the carrot, onion and vinegar mixture to a small bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least a few hours, or overnight if that suits you better. Drain and discard the liquid before serving.
‘Make mayonnaise’ sounds much more daunting than it really is. We’re using premade mayonnaise, and simply turning it into sriracha mayonnaise. Add about four tablespoons of mayonnaise to a small bowl with a teaspoon of sriracha. Add more sriracha if you want more spice.
When you’re nearly ready to eat, set a large skillet over medium heat and add just enough oil to coat. When hot, cook the pork for about 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. I cook pork to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (about 63 Celsius) and then let it rest for a few minutes before slicing. To make sure it cooks before the marinade starts to burn I usually cover the skillet after flipping, unless the pork chops I’m using are on the thin side. Once the pork is cooked and has rested a few minutes, sliced thinly.
Assemble and Serve
Slice open a baguette, spread with sriracha mayonnaise and add the pork and your choice of toppings. If you’re my husband, you skip the mayonnaise and most of the toppings and eat bread and pork. He seems to enjoy that so I guess other picky eaters will to! If you’re me, or probably most people, you’ll add a bit of everything.
Banh Mi (Vietnamese Pork Rolls)
- 1 tablespoon finely minced lemongrass about 1 stalk
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons peanut oil or other neutral oil
- 1 pound boneless pork loin chops about 4
Picked Carrot and Onion
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 carrot julienned
- 1/2 red onion sliced thin
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon sriracha or more to taste
- 4 baguette style rolls
- cucumber slices
- cilantro sprigs or leaves
- First, marinate the pork. Combine the lemongrass, garlic, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce and peanut oil in a shallow dish or ziplock bag. Add the pork and turn to coat all over. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
- Next, make the picked carrot and onion. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir, until the sugar has dissolved, then turn off the heat and allow to cool. Combine with the carrot and onion in a small bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight, then drain and discard the liquid.
- The sriracha mayonnaise can be made the night before too, or just before you're ready to cook. Mix together the mayonnaise and sriracha and taste, adding more sriracha if desired.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and grease with a little oil. Take pork out of marinade, allowing any excess to drip off, and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. If the pork chops are quite thick, I usually cover the pan for the second side to help it cook faster. The marinade has a lot of sugar so it can burn if the pork has to cook for too long. Once pork is cooked, slice thinly.
- To serve, spread the sriracha mayonnaise on a baguette and add pork, pickled carrots and onions, cucumber, and cilantro.
- Any leftover pickled carrot and onion will last a few days in the fridge (probably longer, but it’s always eaten before then).
- Recipe adapted from Australia’s Best Recipes.
Did you make this recipe? If so, follow @theflavorvortex on Instagram and post a picture using #theflavorvortex as I would love to see it!