Wait, what’s your Italian friend going to tell you about making Vietnamese pork meatball banh mi? Plenty because I just made them and they’re delicious! Do you already know about these tasty Vietnamese sandwiches, served with pickled vegetables and a generous slathering of sriracha mayo on a baguette? Or maybe you’ve eaten them out, but never made them at home. Either way, read on!
We’ve got three things to make first–(1) sriracha mayo, (2) pickled veggies and (3) meatballs. Here we go.
KATTY’S PORK MEATBALL BANH MI
Can make 1 day ahead
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sriracha
2 green onions, sliced thin
Whisk together mayo and sriracha. Stir in onions. Cover and chill.
Can make 1 day ahead–see a pattern here?
1 pound ground pork*
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil (I used part cinnamon basil, part Basil of Siam)
2 garlic cloves, pressed
3 green onions, sliced thin
1½ teaspoons fish sauce* Note: just 1 teaspoon would be fine, too.
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
a tablespoon or more of toasted sesame oil for pan-frying the meatballs
1 cup or more of panko breadcrumbs to roll the meatballs in before cooking
Combine ingredients (EXCEPT sesame oil and panko) gently with your hands. Do not overmix. Roll meat by the tablespoonful to form a ball. Place in a container for storage–I used my roasting dish.
Chill in the fridge. Before you cook them, roll them in panko.
Preheat oven to 300°F. Heat sesame oil in large skillet over medium heat. Sauté until outer edges are nicely golden brown, turning meatballs often and lowering heat to simmer as you go, about 10 minutes.
Transfer meatballs to a rimmed baking sheet. Drain sesame oil onto baking sheet; bake in oven 10 minutes.
Aw, heck, you could make these a day ahead, too.
2 2-inch lengths English (seedless) cucumber, sliced as matchsticks
½ daikon radish, sliced as matchsticks
¼ cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
In a low dish, toss together the carrots, cucumbers, daikon, vinegar, sugar and salt.
Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. If you won’t be using them right away, you can store them in the fridge.
fresh mint (optional)
slices of lime (optional)
jalapeño slices (if you like things extra spicy)
Now, let’s put it all together!
Our baguette was easily longer than a foot–cut in thirds to make three sandwiches. If you’d like to make four sandwiches, you’ll want either a bigger baguette or another loaf altogether.
Pull out some of the soft bread to form a shell, which we will slather and stuff as follows. Generously spread sriracha mayo on each baguette half (both sides). Arrange jalapeños, then cilantro (and/or mint), in bottom halves. Fill each with 1/4 of meatballs. Drain pickled vegetables; place atop meatballs. Press on baguette tops. Serve with slices of lime to squeeze over the top of the meatballs, if you like. And don’t forget to include any extra pickled vegetables on the side.
Et voilà! If you don’t want to eat all the meatballs as banh mi, you can serve some of them over rice or rice noodles with pickled vegetables and some of the pickling liquid (ooh, and chopped cashews or peanuts on top) or throw the meatballs in chicken broth with a bit of rice, a squeeze of lime and some sriracha.
*Local shopping help for those in central Connecticut:
Three Crabs fish sauce – Kien’s Oriental Market, Hartford, CT – they make banh mi, too!
baguette – Hartford Baking Company, Hartford, CT–find them on Fridays, July through October, at Middletown’s North End Farmers’ Market
ground pork – Lino’s Market, Durham, CT