banh mi thit nuong
The boyfriend and I love banh mi. I’m sure the rest of you do, too, which is why you’re here! We live in Houston, where the Vietnamese community is huge and there is no shortage of banh mi shops, so I could just drive 10 minutes and pick up some. But so why make it if it’s easily available? Honestly, it’s because I love food and I love to cook. I love learning and recreating my favorite dishes, making it more my own. Also, what else is a sick girl supposed to do all day? Resting sucks. Cooking rocks.
I can always count on The Ravenous Couple’s recipes as a starting point for Vietnamese food. Their bo luc lac is spot on and it seems to be the go to recipe for all my Vietnamese friends, too. So, that’s where I turned to for this banh mi thit nuong (grilled bbq sandwich) recipe.
There are many components to a banh mi. You’ve typically got your bread, meat, mayo, pickled carrots/daikon, cucumber, cilantro, sliced jalapenos, black pepper, and Maagi seasoning. And, if you’re really ambitious, a fried egg (omg so yum maybe next time) Personally, the only veggies I like on my sandwich are the carrots/daikon, which is what you see above. Banh mi bread is not your typical french bread roll. The banh mi rolls, in my opinion, are fluffier and the crust isn’t as tough. I went to the local Vietnamese grocery store when they first opened and got first dibs on the freshly baked bread. It smelled heavenly. It was so warm and soft, with that little bit of crunch. I literally wanted to stop right there and eat a roll. For obvious reasons, I did not. I decided to also pickle my own carrots and daikon radish. That, too, was there for me to just buy, but where’s the fun in that? The boyfriend’s mom gave me this awesome julienne slicer for Christmas and what better way to use it than for the carrots and daikon? Now, I was completely motivated to make my own mayo spread, but the one they had at the grocery was freshly made and looked so good, so I caved and bought it. Next time, I’ll make my own because I felt this one was missing something.
On to the recipes….and pictures :) I’m starting with the pickled carrots and daikon radish as you can get that done and out of the way.
Pickled Carrots and Daikon (adapted from The Ravenous Couple):
Ingredients are simple: thinly sliced carrots, thinly sliced daikon radish, white distilled vinegar, salt, and sugar.
(Note: I didn’t have white distilled vinegar so I just used what I had on hand which was definitely not distilled)
I took my carrot and daikon and peeled them. Using the julienne slicer, I was able to get them sliced thinly. If you don’t have that tool, cutting with a knife or using a fancy food processor will provide the same results. I placed all the sliced carrots/daikon in a 17 oz jar that I had bought from the store. Then, I filled the jar with just enough vinegar to cover the veggies. Next, season with almost equal parts sugar and salt. I used 3 tsp. of sugar and 2 tsp. of salt and I felt it was still too tart. The pickled veggies should be a nice balance of the tart, sweet, and salty. The boyfriend LOVED what I did, but I felt it was too tart for my tastes. Pickle your veggies for at least an hour before use. You’ll be happy to know that the pickled veggies will last months in the fridge so make larger batches if you feel you’ll use them on anything else! Ta da!
Banh Mi Thit Nuong (Grilled BBQ Vietnamese Sandwich) – Also adapted from The Ravenous Couple
- 1.5 lb pork butt or shoulder, thinly sliced just under 1/4 inch or so (not too thin as you do not want it to dry out when grilled. Ask your butcher to do this for you. Also, do not use lean pork as it will become dry.)
- 1 tbsp. minced Lemongrass (xa bam). Many Asian markets will sell minced lemongrass in the freezer section.
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- 1 tbs ground pepper
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced.
- 2-3 shallots, minced.
- 3 tbs sesame oil
- 1 tbs thick soy sauce (not regular soy sauce–has molasses, making it thicker and adding great color. If not available, can use caramel sauce. Both can be found at Asian groceries)
- 4-6 banh mi rolls (French bread rolls) or if that’s not available, 2 loaves of French bread or 4-6 demi baguettes
- optional 1 cucumber, sliced thin
- optional 1/2 bunch cilantro
- optional jalapeno, thinly sliced
- pickled carrots/daikon
- Vietnamese mayo – I call it that because it’s not butter and it’s not your typical Kraft mayonnaise, so that’s what i’m sticking with.
In a large bowl, add your lemongrass, sugar, fish sauce, pepper, garlic, shallots, sesame oil, and thick soy sauce. Add the meat and make sure to mix well and incorporate all the ingredients with the meat. Marinate in the fridge for at least an hour or two.
There are a few ways to cook this. You can use a grill with a grill basket, on a grill with skewers, or in a pan on a stove top. I, personally, don’t have the option of grilling so I used my grill type pan on my stove top. It left really pretty grill marks and still gave it that same char. Grill the meat til it’s nice and brown, with a bit of char.
Once the meat is cooked, you can put your sandwich together with all the condiments. I prefer my bread warm, so I’d preheat the oven to 265 degrees and warm the bread for about 5-10 minutes. Cut it in half, spread the mayo, add the meat, add the veggies, and whatever optional items you want on there and voila. Your sandwich awaits you!
The meat cooked really well and the sandwich itself was a hit. We were able to make 5 sandwiches with this batch. The boyfriend approves, so I’m sure I’ll be making this more often. I love the bread and I’m going to make my own mayo the next round. Til then!
Happy Eating – Chelle ^_^