OK, confession time. I have never tasted a real Bánh Mì sandwich. (I live on an island, remember! No local Vietnamese restaurant. We’re lucky just to have a half way decent grocery store on the island!) Anyway, our good friend Todd told Mr. C. and me all about his love for Bánh Mì sandwiches while we were enjoying a mini golfing vacation with him and his wife Cindy this last May. Todd just kept saying how much he loved these sandwiches. So sure enough, last week I decided to do some research and see what all the fuss was about. (My best sources were Cooking Light and nytimes.com.) I get it! Even though I have no idea if this recipe comes even close to what a “real” Bánh Mì sandwich should taste like; it is so good I just had to share it with you, regardless if it has as much semblance to a real Bánh Mì sandwich as a “Ritz” apple pie does to a “real” apple pie. I really don’t care. This is simply one very delicious sandwich, call it what you may!
So next time you want to tantalize your taste buds, give this recipe a try. And while you are busy in the kitchen fixing this recipe, I am going to try and find a Vietnamese restaurant less than 60 miles away. And when I do, I am going to order a real Bánh Mì sandwich. If I find that the recipe I have just shared with you has absolutely nothing in common with the real thing, I will do an edit, and call this by some other name, like “Pork Sandwiches with an Attitude” or Pulled Pork Step Aside Sandwiches”.
So, if you happen to be a Bánh Mì aficionada, and have a great recipe you would consider sharing, please send it my way. If we agree it is amazing, I’ll publish it faster than the time it takes to explain how to pronounce segue correctly.
- 1 med. carrot, julienned
- 1 small English cucumber, mostly peeled, cut in half, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 4-5 radishes, very thinly sliced
- 2 T. unseasoned rice wine vinegar
- 2 T. sugar
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ c. mayonnaise
- 1/3 c. finely chopped green onions, divided
- 1-2 T. Sriracha or other chili sauce
- 1 T. vegetable oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 2 T. Asian fish sauce
- freshly ground black pepper
- ½ c. chopped fresh basil
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
- 4 individual ciabatta rolls, split, and toasted
- 1-2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and thinly sliced, opt.
- mint sprigs, opt.
- cilantro sprigs, opt.
Toss the carrot, cucumber, radishes, vinegar, sugar, and salt together in a small bowl; let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes.
Whisk together the mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of the green onions, and 1 tablespoon of the Sriracha. Taste and add additional Sriracha to liking. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining chopped green onion and the garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add pork and cook, breaking up the ground pork with a spatula, until meat is no longer pink. Stir in the fish sauce and black pepper. Remove from heat and stir in the basil, lime zest, and lime juice. Adjust seasoning.
Cut each ciabatta in half; bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 7-10 minutes or until the bread is nicely heated and crisp. Lightly spread all of the cut sides of the toasted ciabatta halves with the mayonnaise mixture. (Use it all!) Spread the bottom half of each cut ciabatta with the pork mixture. Press the jalapeño, mint, and cilantro sprigs into the pork. Spoon some drained pickled vegetables onto the sandwiches and serve immediately. Serve any extra pickled vegetables on the side.