Traveling through Vietnam has been a fantastic experience for the senses. We have seen incredible vistas, inhaled some delicious and not so delicious smells, and eaten our way through every city (of course). Our schedules currently revolve around coffee, breakfast, more Vietnamese coffee, lunch, afternoon snacks, happy hour, dinner, and post-dinner dessert or drinks. We’ve perused a few museums and explored the countryside, but only after we have filled our stomachs. Can you blame us? I’ve eaten my weight in spring rolls and have no regrets, though I will be sad to leave this beautiful country in a couple of days.
Bánh mì started out in the early to mid-1900s as a baguette smeared with liver pate (quite obviously from French influence during their occupation of Vietnam). It has evolved into individual sandwiches filled with homemade mayo, hot chilies, cucumber, cilantro, pickled veggies, and your meat of choice (pork being most common in Vietnam). Sliced beef was a later filling addition, as cows were more traditionally work animals and less of a meat source. Local families and shops have developed their own recipes and often have specific and firm opinions on the “best” way to make a bánh mì. I’ve seen bánh mì come in all shapes, sizes, and fillings, but authentic versions use a specific type of bread that has the crust of a French baguette but with a softer, light and fluffy interior.
My bánh mì recipe is meant to be approachable and adaptable for your preferences, while maintaining a few of the key attributes for a Vietnamese bánh mì. If you are unsure which bread to buy at a bakery or grocery store, look for a petit baguette roll, or a sandwich roll, oblong in size and about 8-10 inches in length. I’ve recently started obsessing over pickled vegetables and want to eat them with everything, though if you prefer, just use fresh vegetables. If you have time, try your hand at homemade mayonnaise! I’ve included a link in the recipe if you want to give it a try.
PORK BÁNH MÌ WITH PICKLED VEGETABLES AND SRIRACHA MAYONNAISE
adapted from: Food52
makes 4 sandwiches
pork and marinade:
1-1.5 pounds pork tenderloin*
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 green onion, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 large shallots, sliced thinly
2 large carrots, sliced into matchsticks
1 medium/large cucumber, thinly sliced (you can use a mandolin for this if you have one and want to put it to use!)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1.5 teaspoons sriracha, plus more to taste (1.5 would be mild spice)
¼ cup mayonnaise (if you want to make your own, I recommend Melissa Clark’s recipe)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
bread and filling ideas:
leafy greens of choice
green onions, sliced
1 jalapeño, sliced (de-seeded for mild spice)
4 Vietnamese baguettes (if you can find them, or any soft 8-10” sandwich roll)
First, prepare your marinade by combining all ingredients in a medium bowl. Next, place the pork in a glass baking dish and give it a couple of spears with a fork on all sides. Pour the marinade over the pork and let it sit for 30 to 60min in the refrigerator, flipping the pork over partway through.
while pork is marinating…
Make the pickled vegetables: combine all ingredients together in a medium bowl and let them sit for a bit, preferably an hour or so, giving them a good sir once or twice.
Make sriracha mayo: whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl
When the pork is ready to bake, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and bake pork 25-30 min, until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. After pork has cooked, let it rest for 5-10 minutes, then slice thinly.
To eat: Toast the buns and spread with sriracha mayo. Add sliced pork, pickled vegetables, and other filling ingredients such as leafy greens, cilantro, or green onion. I personally like spooning some of the pork marinade into my sandwich, though be judicious if you do as it is quite salty.
*for a vegetarian option, marinate 4 servings of tofu or tempeh and cook to your preference