Confession: Aaron and I have a sandwich obsession.
No joke, we have this fantasy about quitting our jobs and opening a sandwich shop 😛 Crazy combinations of spreads, sauces, veggies, fancy meats and cheeses, and creative healthy sides. Yum yum.
I haven’t blogged many sandwiches so far… but that changes now.
Banh mi deserves the honor of first sandwich on the blog.
While my recipe is totally horribly inauthentic, it takes the spirit of Vietnamese banh mi and runs with it.
A traditional banh mi features a delicious sandwich baguette made with a combination of rice and wheat flour, giving it a softer texture. It’s then loaded up with mayo, liver pate, cilantro, marinated carrot and daikon, cucumber, vietnamese pork, ham, and jalapeños or bird chiles.
This version takes a lot of shortcuts.
It uses regular bakery rolls, a spiced-up mayo, and features just one kind of meat- a flavor packed pork meatball.
But for real, it’s SO GOOD!
The spicy mayo and jalapeños make each bite tantalizingly spicy, and the meatballs are PACKED with flavor, thanks to the mix-ins (fresh basil, mint, ginger, garlic, green onion, fish sauce, and chili sauce, to name a few!). To top it off, the fresh cucumber, cilantro, and pickled carrot and daikon give the sandwich a fresh pop and balance out the heavier flavors of the meatballs and mayo.
It checks all the boxes for the perfect sandwich.
There are a lot of steps involved, so I’d recommend making this on the weekend or batch cooking the meatballs, chopping the veggies, and pre-soaking the pickled veg for an easy weeknight assembly. Enjoy!
Spicy Pork Meatball Banh Mi
For the Sandwiches
- 2 cups grated carrot
- 2 cups peeled grated daikon radish
- 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large deli sandwich rolls
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 cucumber, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise into strips
- 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
For the Spicy Mayo
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3 green onions, dark and light green parts finely chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Meatballs
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 green onions, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sambal oelek or chili garlic sauce
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated black pepper
- Sesame oil, for drizzling
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- Place the grated carrot and grated daikon in a medium bowl. Add the 1/4 rice vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Use your hands to toss and mix well, then set aside at room temperature for 1 hour, tossing occasionally.
- Meanwhile, stir all the spicy mayonnaise ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and place in the fridge until the rest of the meal is ready.
- Next, make the meatballs. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Drizzle a splash of refined olive oil on a large rimmed baking sheet, and use your hand or a paper towel to evenly coat the whole surface.
- In a large bowl, mix together the ground pork, basil, mint, garlic, green onions, ginger, fish sauce, sambal oelek, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to form the pork into 16 round meatballs. Place them evenly spaced on the baking sheet and brush them with sesame oil.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the meatballs for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through and starting to turn golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Drain the daikon and carrot mixture, pressing out excess liquid.
- To assemble the banh mi sandwiches, cut the sandwich rolls open lengthwise, creating a cavity for the filling. Spread both sides generously with the spicy mayonnaise mixture. Lay down a layer of sliced cucumber on the bottom half of the roll, and top with a small handful of fresh cilantro leaves. Add the meatballs (you can cut them in half to help them fit better), top with a generous handful of the carrot daikon mixture, and finish with jalapeño slices. Enjoy right away!