These are so good. Perfect for lunch or dinner with fresh spring rolls. They take a little bit of work, but they are really worth it.
Traditional bánh mì are made with liver paté, but I went with something less traditional and still really good: marinated pork. Ham or other lunch meats also work in a pinch. Of course, fried pork belly bánh mì would be good, too.
The thing is, “bánh mì” means “bread” in Vietnamese. As such, the bread—a small, crusty baguette—is the key to these sandwiches. The pickled daikon/carrot is also critical, and really easy to make. I’ll give the recipe below for Serious Eats’ take on that important condiment.
If you really want to get serious, spend the time to make the bread yourself. But I guess I’m not that serious about these yet.
What you’ll need for the marinated pork:
- However much pork roast or tenderloin, thinly sliced—maybe 5 or 6 slices for two sandwiches
- 1.5T soy sauce
- 2T fish sauce
- 3T brown sugar or palm sugar
- 1t minced garlic or garlic paste
- 2t sesame oil
- 1T vegetable oil
What to do for the marinated pork:
Mix all the liquids, sugar and garlic in a small bowl.
Add the meat to a sealable freezer bag and add the meat. Make sure that all of the meet is covered with marinade. Let it sit for at least two hours or overnight before cooking.
To cook, heat a frypan over low medium heat and add a bit of oil. Cook the pork low and slow, until cooked through on each side. Alternatively, cook over high heat or grill for a more seared flavor. You do risk toughening the meat, though.
Use hot or cold on your bánh mì.
What you’ll need for the pickled daikon and carrots:
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
- 1 pound daikon(s), peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
- 1t salt
- 2t plus 0.5 cups sugar (yeah, that’s correct)
- 1.25 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup lukewarm water
What to do for the pickled daikon and carrots:
Put the carrot and daikon sticks in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt and the 2t of sugar. Use your hands to knead the vegetables for about 3 minutes, expelling the water from them. This part is really cool: They will soften and liquid will begin to pool at the bottom of the bowl. Stop kneading when you can bend the ends of a piece of daikon together and it doesn’t snap in half.
At this point, the vegetables should have lost about a fourth of their volume. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water, then press gently to expel any extra water. Return the vegetables to the bowl if you plan to eat them soon, or transfer them to a 1-quart jar for longer storage.
Next, make the brine. Combine the 0.5 cups sugar, vinegar, water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the mixture over the vegetables, completely covering them. Let the vegetables marinate in the brine for at least an hour before eating. Here’s the beauty of this: the pickled carrots and daikon will keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks. So you have a month’s worth of bánh mì ahead of you!
What you’ll need for one bánh mì:
- 1 small baguette roll or 7-inch section from a regular baguette—these would preferably be really crusty
- Sweet chili spring-roll sauce
- Whatever meat you’re using
- 3 or 4 thin, cucumber slices—lengthwise
- 2 or 3 sprigs of cilantro
- 3 or 4 thin of slices jalapeño chili
- About 0.25 cups of the daikon and carrot pickle you just made
What to do for the bánh mì:
Slit the bread lengthwise, leaving it attached on the back side, if possible. Using your fingers or a bread knife, hollow out the insides, making a trough in each half. If the bread is soft, you can crisp it briefly in a toaster-oven preheated to 325F, and then let it cool for a minute before proceeding.
Spread the cut side of the top piece of bread with mayonnaise. Don’t be stingy. On the cut side of the bottom piece, spread some spring roll sauce. Layer the meat, cucumber, cilantro, chili, and pickle on the bottom half.
Add the top half with the mayo and cut crosswise to make it easier to eat. Don’t forget to cut it at an angle; it will taste better that way.