Banh Mi is a Vietnamese street food style sandwich. It often has pork in some form, plus pate and mayonnaise which stems from the past French influence in Vietnam. The crusty baguette that it is typically served on and still used widely in parts of Vietnam, also highlights the influence that the French colonial period had.
Banh Mi basically means bread in Vietnamese but that’s more of a Westernised name for it and I don’t think it’s necessarily called that in Vietnam. According to Wikipedia it would more likely be called bánh mì thịt nguội which I looked up the translation for: ham sandwiches!
I’d never had Banh Mi before, let alone tried to make it, but I was inspired by a Banh Mi cafe in one of the shopping centres that I frequent. The lines are always so long, so I thought I’d try and make it at home myself. I’ve made it a few times now, following this Luke Nguyen recipe the first time, then tweaking with additions other times. This version is the one I will make from now one.
Finding the perfect roll for this could be a bit tricky. You want something big enough to hold all the bits and pieces, as well as something a with a nice crust and soft, sweet inner bread. I go out of my way to get these Viennoise Nature rolls from a bakery called Maison Kayser Paris. Obviously not actually in Paris (that would be really out of my way) but on the edge of ION Orchard, coincidentally next to another Banh Mi Cafe.
Smash the marinade ingredients to form a paste. Chopping them up roughly beforehand can make the job a bit easier.
The meat should marinate for at least 1½ hours.
I’ve had this food processor for over a year now and it’s a favoured item that travelled with me from home. I only realised the other day what the dip in the top with the 2 small holes is for. Dribbling in oil to make a dressing or mayonnaise. Duh!
I made my own aioli this time, but I’ve also successfully used processed mayo.
This baby is a daikon or a Japanese radish. It tastes like a hotter version of those little pink radishes that are common in Australia. I’m not sure how hard a daikon would be to come by in Australia, but I’d confidently replace with some thinly sliced pink radishes if need be.
Use a vegetable peeler to make long, thick strips out of the daikon and carrot.
I’m a known coriander leaf hater, mainly because I think it’s overused and often chucked in things that would be much better off without it. This is one of the few things that I don’t mind putting a few leafs on though. For coriander lovers, feel free to pile it on :)
The only real trick to this is to load it up with goodies. Put more butter, mayo and pickle on than you normally would. The only thing you want to go easy on, is the salty soy.
Banh Mi – My Way
For the marinade – Makes enough for 4 rolls
- 1/3 cup fish sauce
- 1 tbs honey
- 1 tbs raw sugar
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, thinly sliced
- 3 coriander roots (reserve the leaves to serve)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 spring onions
- 1 pork fillet or 320g, sliced as thinly as possible
For the pickle – Makes enough for 4 rolls
- ½ cup white rice wine vinegar or plain white vinegar
- ½ cup raw or white sugar
- 1 tsp salt flakes
- 1 cup daikon strips
- 1 cup carrot strips
For the aioli – Makes approximately 1 cup which is more than you will need for 4 rolls
- 1 egg
- ½ tbs lemon juice
- ¼ tsp salt flakes
- ½ small garlic clove, peeled and finely grated
- ½ cup rice bran oil or any other neutral oil
- 4 bread rolls
- Margarine or butter
- Slices of cucumber
- Thick, dark soy sauce or thick kecap manis
- Sprigs of coriander to garnish
To make the marinade
- In a medium plastic or glass bowl, mix together the fish sauce, honey, sugar and pepper. Whisk or mix with a fork until most of the sugar has dissolved.
- In a mortar and pestle, bash together the lemongrass, coriander roots, garlic and the whites of the spring onion. Once a paste forms, add it to the fish sauce mix and stir through.
- Finely chop the green parts of the spring onion and add them to the marinade with the meat. Stir everything together.
- Cover and marinade in the fridge for 1½ hours.
To make the pickle
- Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat just until the sugar and salt has dissolved.
- Once removed from heat, let sit for 5 minutes, then add the daikon and carrot strips and stir through pushing all of it into the pickling liquid.
- Cover and refrigerate for 1½ hours.
To Make the Aioli
- Place all ingredients except the oil into a food processor, or if using muscle power, a bowl.
- Slowly stream the oil into the food processor while running, or into the bowl while whisking hard.
- Once all of the oil is incorporated, pour the aioli into a small container.
- I like to make it at the same time as the marinade and pickle so that it has time to set a bit in the fridge but that’s not absolutely necessary and can be made just before it’s needed.
- Drain off any leftover marinade liquid from the pork. Heat a neutral oil in a wok or fry pan over high heat and quickly stir fry the pork until it’s just cooked.
- Cut each roll lengthwise, then spread with margarine / butter then aioli on both sides.
- Place the cucumber slices on one side, then the cooked meat on top.
- Place the pickled strips of daikon and carrot on next.
- Drizzle over a small amount of dark soy sauce then garnish with coriander leaves.