There’s a simple reason why the Vietnamese banh mi is all the rage these days: THEY ARE SO DANG GOOD. Try out this easy Lemongrass Pork Banh Mi at home!
It’s amazing how open-minded people are nowadays. This “evolution” is one of the things I credit for the influx of all these delightful brands and food products from overseas. Being exposed to curious things abroad through the web, people are now more willing to try new things.
20 years ago, before the Internet became a normal part of everyone’s households, most people outside Vietnam probably didn’t even know what a banh mi was. Well it’s now all the rage not just here but also in the States. (I had some really amazing ones in NYC.) I’m super happy to be sitting here writing about what a pleasure devouring this Lemongrass Pork Banh Mi was without having people raise eyebrows at me, asking what on earth I’m talking about haha!
One of my favorite food trends to land in the PH in recent years is definitely the banh mi, although I sure hope it won’t just be a so-called trend. I love how the banh mi joints in Manila have added their personal touches to their own versions. I have yet to review one on the blog, but a glance at their menus sure does whet the appetite. That’s why I decided to make this, because I didn’t have any banh mi places near my home.
And frankly, this was really easy to whip up.
Now before anybody gets on their high horse and starts telling me this isn’t “authentic” Vietnamese banh mi, let’s get the disclaimers out of the way: Most banh mi in Vietnam have liver spread on but I skipped that because I didn’t feel like it, however I will still call this a banh mi because of the composition of the sandwich. Baguette + meat + pickled veggies + cilantro = BEST SANDWICHES EVER.
Okay, so the meat that you put inside the sandwich is pretty important because a lot of the savory flavor will come from there. So for this one I used Rasa Malaysia’s pork marinated in lemongrass, onions, and other seasonings. I highly recommend marinating overnight because then you really get the flavors and the scent of the lemongrass to infuse with the meat.
It’s best to grill the meat but because I’m lazy I just cooked it in a nonstick pan. My mom always advises to roll the meat in a little cornstarch so that it cooks more evenly on the stovetop without the meat turning tough. If you’re grilling, the cornstarch process is unnecessary, but you’ll want to char the meat a bit for a smoky taste.
After you cook your meat, it’s time to assemble! Halve and toast your mini baguettes first of course, and then spread the Sriracha mayo concoction found in the recipe box below to both sides of the baguette halves. Layer on your meat, and the all-important pickled veggies.
Pickled things make any savory sandwich have this whole new layer of flavor by tickling the tastebuds. They make these Lemongrass Pork Banh Mi taste AMAZING. The one I used is store-bought from Ongpin. (From Eng Ho Grocery I believe.) These are really good pickled veggies, let me tell you. Finally, top the veggies with cilantro. I don’t know why some people don’t like it, but the more cilantro in my banh mi, the better!
And as simple as that, you can feast on your homemade Lemongrass Pork Banh Mi! Your get juicy savoriness from the pork, plus a sweet-sour kick from the pickled veggies. The cilantro brings something exotic into the mix alongside the lemongrass infused pork, and of course the warm baguettes bring that crunch. SO GOOD.
Lemongrass Pork Banh Mi
For the Lemongrass Pork
- 1 kilogram pork fillet, sliced depending on how you like
- 1/2 cup minced lemongrass
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons ground black pepper
- 5 shallots, peeled and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoons peanut oil or regular cooking oil
- 2 Tablespoons sweet soy sauce
For the Sriracha Mayo
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2-3 Tablespoons Sriracha sauce or other hot sauce, adjust according to taste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
For assembling the banh mi
- 4 mini baguettes
- Pickled veggies, homemade or store-bought
- Fresh cilantro leaves
Prepare the pork the night before
- 1. Lightly pound the pork slices with the back of a kitchen knife. In a bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients together. Pour the marinade into a tray or resealable bag and place the pork to marinade overnight.
Make the Sriracha mayo
- 2. In a small bowl, stir together the ingredients for the Sriracha Mayo, set aside until ready to assemble the banh mi.
When ready to cook the pork
- 3. Preheat your grill according to manufacturer's instructions. Gently arrange marinated pork slices onto the grill and cook the pork until nicely charred on both sides and cooked through. You can also use the broiler oven, and broil the pork for 5 to 7 minutes on each side or until the meat is completely cooked and nicely charred. (I just used my nonstick pan because I'm lazy lol. If using this method, you can roll the meat in a bit of cornstarch to help it cook faster and stay juicy before cooking on the stovetop. It won't be as charred though.)
- 4. Slice the baguettes in half and toast. Spread the mayonnaise on both sides of the bread and lay the meat on top. Generously layer the pickled vegetables on top of the meat (pickled jalapeños taste great in banh mi too), then place the cilantro on top. Eat with more Sriracha or hot sauce, if desired.
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