Every time I make this sandwich, my husband starts talking business plans. He wants to know how much the food costs for such a sandwich would run and how many he thinks I could make on a Sunday morning. Talk then gets into whether a food truck or a food cart would be a better long-term investment.
“We need to think about these things,” he tells me. “After all, we wouldn’t do this full-time. Nope, we would just have our little banh mi cart (or truck) on Sundays for Panthers home games. But” and he pauses here for emphasis, “we would make a killing. How could people resist this sandwich? They’d have to buy it.”
These talks never get very far. Mainly, because as he talks I get the clear feeling that he sees himself as the boss of this sandwich shop. And for those who don’t know me, I don’t do well with anything less than co-captain status . However, I understand his enthusiasm. This is a sandwich that you want to feed people.
Ground pork, lemongrass, green onions, garlic, jalapeño, and fish sauce combine to make juicy meatballs. The meatballs are then seared off in a pan, before being placed on a noisily crunchy baguette and topped with pickled carrots, fresh cilantro, and a spicy sriracha mayonnaise. It’s about the farthest thing from boring and it’s perfect for a quick lunch or dinner, a late-night snack, or a Sunday football game.
For ease of preparation, make the meatballs ahead of time. I’ve done this two ways. I’ve shaped them ahead of time and then cooked them off right before serving and I’ve also cooked them in advance and then microwaved them briefly (about 30 seconds). Either way yields delicious results.
Seasoning is always tricky when dealing with large portions of raw meat. For health reasons, you can’t taste raw pork to see if you’ve seasoned it properly. For this reason, when I’m making hamburgers, crab cakes, or meatballs I like to cook off a little piece in a small skillet and taste it for proper seasoning before I shape and cook off the entire batch. It’s a great way of making sure that your final product tastes just the way you want it.
Vietnamese Pork Banh Mi Sandwiches with Sriracha Mayo – Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes 4 sandwiches
For the carrot slaw:
2 cups grated carrots
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
For the mayo:
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
For the meatballs:
1 lb ground pork
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, roots trimmed, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, minced (include seeds for a spicier meatball)
1 teaspoon minced lemongrass
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 large French baguette, cut into 4 (6-inch) pieces
In a small bowl, toss the grated carrots with the granulated sugar and unseasoned rice vinegar. Let stand for at least 30 minutes and preferably one hour at room temperature. Stir often.
In another small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and sriracha hot sauce. Chill until ready to use.
In a large bowl, combine the pork, garlic, green onions, jalapeño, lemongrass, fish sauce, sugar, salt, and cornstarch with your hands. Shape the mixture into 16 golf-ball size meatballs and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium heat until hot. Add the meatballs and cook for about 12 minutes total. Turn them often so they brown equally on all sides. Remove the meatballs from the skillet and set aside.
Cut the baguette pieces in half and pull out excess bread from the bottom half of the baguette to create a shell for the meatballs. Fill each shell with four meatballs and top with ½ cup of the carrot slaw. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves. Spread sriracha mayonnaise on the top halves of the bread and place on top of the meatballs. Serve.