Banh Mi–Not Your Average Meatball Sandwich

This sandwich.  I can’t even begin to sing its praises.  It has all the things I love in a sandwich–big flavor, visual appeal and accessible ingredients.  It’s also fast enough to put together for a weeknight, which is another good reason to tuck this into your recipe arsenal.  This particular sandwich is a riff on a Banh Mi (Bonn-Mee) and it is a sandwich popular in Vietnam, born from local ingredients and ingredients influenced by the French presence in colonial Vietnam.  Usually it is filled with a variety of sliced meats, pickled vegetables, fresh cilantro and pate.  The bread is a light, crispy baguette and is usually spread with mayo or a combination of butter and mayo.  Prepared fresh and wrapped in paper, it is street food at its finest and eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  My kind of eats.

Unfortunately, we don’t always have access to the best bakeries for that perfect baguette, or a reliable source for pate.  This is when we get resourceful.

Once upon a time I found myself living in a small town in southwest Oklahoma.  It was not a place known for the most amazing food quality, and certainly not for seemingly exotic ingredients, like pate.  Not to worry though, there were still ways to get creative and enjoy those flavors we’ve tasted in other places.  Enter one of my favorite food magazines, ever.  Bon Appetit subscription to the rescue.  I was flipping through the pages of an issue when I saw a recipe for a pork meatball Banh Mi.  It had ingredients I could find at the local grocery store and it didn’t take long to make.  And cue the angels.  I made it for dinner that very night, had one for breakfast the next morning and made them again the next week.  And not a single soul in my house complained.  Banh Mi for the win.

Now that I’ve rambled endlessly about this sandwich, I should probably just show you a photo and share the recipe.  It really does speak for itself.

Banh Mi Sandwich Photo

See that meatball peeking out at you?  The crunchy slaw and the frilly cilantro?  YES.

I really think this one will win you over.  And since it is almost time for the biggest unofficial American holiday of the year (read: Super Bowl Sunday), there’s still time to add this into your game day menu.  You can also forego the bread and serve the meatballs with the slaw and topping as an appetizer for all the flavors in one excellent bite.

Banh Mi Meatball Photo

Can’t you just imagine a full platter of those?  I think your party table needs it.  If you’re not having a party, make the sandwiches and enjoy them anyway.  Who says we need to wait for special occasions to make good food?  Here’s the recipe:

Pork Meatball Banh Mi

Hot Chili Mayo

  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha

Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (found in Asian section of grocery store or an Asian market)
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Sandwiches

  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 2 cups shredded radishes
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt  
  • 4 individual baguettes or four pieces French-bread baguette (cut from 2 baguettes) Can also use Bolillo Rolls (football shaped rolls with a thin crust) 
  • Thinly sliced jalapeño chiles (optional)
  • 16 large fresh cilantro sprigs

Chili Mayo

Stir all the chili mayo ingredients together in a small bowl.  Cover and chill.  Can make up to 1 day ahead.

Meatballs

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Spray with cooking spray. Gently mix all ingredients in large bowl. Using moistened hands and tablespoonful for each, roll meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Arrange on baking sheet. Can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

sandwiches

  • Toss carrots, radishes, vinegar, sugar and salt in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature while preparing meatballs, tossing occasionally.
  • Place in meatballs in oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until baked through.
  • Cut each baguette or baguette piece horizontally in half. Pull out enough bread from each bread half to leave 1/2-inch-thick shell. Spread hot chili mayo over each bread shell. Arrange jalapeños (if using) in bottom halves. Fill each with meatballs. Drain pickled vegetables; place atop meatballs. Garnish with cilantro.  Press on baguette tops.

I really can’t wait for you to try these.  Familiar ingredients put together in a way that makes them new again.  And they will taste good whether you are cheering on your favorite team or just watching for the commercials!

*recipe adapted from Bon Appetit magazine*

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