Banh Mi sandwiches have become all the rage in the food world over the past few years. I’ve tried many local renditions as well as a few on my travels, and many have been featured here on the blog.
“The Vietnamese sandwich, sometimes called a “bánh mì” sandwich, is a product of French colonialism in Indochina, combining ingredients from the French (baguettes, pâté and mayonnaise) with native Vietnamese ingredients, such as cilantro, fish sauce, and pickled carrots.” [source]
These flavorful Vietnamese sandwiches contain many textures and layers of flavor, and require several essential elements:
- Crusty French bread – THE key ingredient, in my opinion!
- Crunchy pickled veggies, like cucumbers, carrots, and radishes
- Salty sauce, like soy and/or fish sauce
- Creamy mayo-based dressing
- Fresh Herbs, such as cilantro, and
- Protein – I’ve seen many options, from pork to pork belly to prosciutto to beef to tofu
- Heat! Chilies and Sriracha are a must for me.
Given the long ingredient list, Banh Mi sandwiches weren’t something I really ever thought I would tackle making at home, especially when there are some fantastic local options available (Ginger Deli being my favorite.)
But recently, I came across a recipe in Cooking Light magazine for totally doable Banh Mi sandwiches at home and decided to give it a whirl! Spoiler alert: it was a huge success!
I began the process by prepping a few of the ingredients:
- Radish and Carrot Slaw (omitted the cilantro because huz hates it), tossed in lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar (recipe here)
- Hoisin Mayo (literally just hoisin sauce and mayo mixed together). You could probably substitute any sort of sweet Asian sauce you have on hand for the hoisin, like teriyaki or sweet chili sauce, if you don’t have hoisin and don’t want to add another condiment bottle to your fridge.)
Sliced cucumber and jalapeño pepper.
The second time I made these sandwiches, while slicing the cucumber, I totally whizzed off the tip of my thumb on my mandolin. OUCHIES. I highly recommend being smarter than me using the safety guard on your mandolin, kids. I learned my lesson!
This recipe uses lean pork loin which has been marinated in a ginger-soy sauce for 10 minutes prior to searing quickly over high heat. Cooking Light suggests a grill pan, which I do not have, so instead I used my enameled cast iron Lodge skillet.
Before you can start assembling these beauties, slice a 12 ounce loaf of French bread in half lengthwise, cut into quarters, and hollow out the top and bottom halves of the bread, retaining about a 1-inch shell of bread. I like to warm up the bread in my oven for a couple minutes before assembling, as well.
Finally, you’re ready to create your Banh Mi. I recommend assembling in this specific order, suggested by Cooking Light’s recipe. I did it out of order the second time and it was a mess!
- Spread hoisin mayo on the top halves of bread
- Layer bottom halves of bread with romaine lettuce
- Top lettuce with:
- Cooked pork
- Sliced cucumbers and jalapenos
- Carrot and Radish Slaw
- Place the top halves of the bread over the sandwich and eat!
The huz and I both absolutely flipped over these homemade Banh Mi sandwiches! We talked about them for days after I first made them. (“Oh, remember those Banh Mis!?”)
Granted, Cooking Light offers a relatively quick and easy version with a few shortcuts compared to an “authentic” Banh Mi (whatever that means) but I sure enjoyed it! I was, and AM, so impressed that I was able to quickly and easily assemble these hearty sandwiches that were packed with flavor on a weeknight at home and can see myself returning to this recipe again and again in the future.
My #1 tip is to be sure to buy a quality French bread with a nice crusty exterior as that is what really makes this sandwich!
Ginger-Soy Pork Loin Sandwiches
Recipe from Cooking Light (instructions very slightly modified)
- 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 pound boneless center-cut pork loin, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- Cooking spray
- 1 (12-ounce) French bread loaf, halved lengthwise and quartered
- 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
- 4 romaine lettuce leaves
- 24 slices English cucumber
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 2 cups Radish and Carrot Slaw
- Sriracha (optional [sort of])
1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add pork, turning to coat. Let stand 10 minutes.
2. Prepare Radish and Carrot Slaw; set aside.
3. Heat a grill pan over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Arrange half of pork on pan; grill 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until done. Remove pork from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining pork. Hollow out top and bottom halves of bread, leaving a 1-inch-thick shell; reserve torn bread for another use. Combine mayonnaise and hoisin in a small bowl. Spread mayonnaise mixture evenly over top halves of bread. Arrange lettuce over bottom halves of bread; top evenly with pork, cucumber, jalapeño, and Radish and Carrot Slaw. Drizzle with Sriracha to taste. Top with top halves of bread.
My Rating: 9.2/10
Would I Make It Again?: You betcha. Have prepared these two times now.
What I’d Do Differently Next Time: Prepare more hoisin mayo! Use the safety guard on my mandolin slicer so I don’t slice my thumb off! Definitely use a grill pan to cook the spices of pork if you have one, as this allows the pork to remain elevated from the liquid that cooks off and allows for a nice caramelized sear on the pork. I used a regular skillet since I don’t have a grill pan, but I can understand the benefit in using a grill pan.