Guess what? You DO NOT need trek wide and far to a Vietnamese neighbourhood to get your Vietnamese sandwich fix! This Banh Mi recipe covers the truly authentic meats as well as how to make an exceptional Banh Mi by just going to your everyday grocery store! ??
Authentic tasting Banh Mi with just a trip to your local grocery store? YES YOU CAN!
Banh Mi recipe
Fellow Banh Mi lovers, this one’s for you! A recipe that’s been in the works for a very long time, with much taste-testing research done (it’s hard work, but someone’s gotta do it… ?).
In today’s Banh Mi recipe, I’m going to show you:
- What Banh Mi vendors use – the authentic ingredients used by Banh Mi vendors here in Australia and in Vietnam;
- Vietnamese Grocery Stores – where and what to get in Vietnamese grocery stores that most closely replicates the authentic ingredients;
- Normal grocery stores – how to make a seriously authentic tasting Banh Mi with just a trip to your local grocery store (Woolies, Coles ????); and
- Variations – two popular variations of the classic cold cuts version: softest ever Vietnamese Banh Mi meatballs and shredded chicken.
I certainly had more than my fair share of Banh Mi when I was in Vietnam last year…. here I am getting stuck into one on the streets of Saigon. One for now, two for snacking on later…. ?
What goes in Banh Mi
This Banh Mi recipe isn’t so much of a recipe as it is about sourcing the right ingredients and how to assemble it. Nice change, right?? No cooking! ?
Here’s what you need:
- Vietnamese cold cuts (more info below, including subs) – or Vietnamese meatballs or chicken, two popular varieties I’m also sharing today.
- Very crusty baguettes – just really good, normal bread rolls. Crusty on the outside, soft on the inside! When you cut the baguette open, the crust should literally crumble everywhere and make a total mess! ??
- Pate – pork or chicken, the very best Banh Mi vendors make their own. Any normal pate that’s not heavily flavoured with liquor or a flavouring like orange is just fine.
- Mayo – mayo + pate creates a unique juiciness and savoury richness that we know and love about Banh Mi!
- Pickled carrot – simple to make, the soft crunch and tartness is such a great contrast to the other textures and flavours
- Cucumber, coriander/cilantro, green onion, chilli – the freshness and spiciness that we know and love about Banh Mi!
- Maggi Seasoning – or just soy sauce. Just a little drizzle to finish it off!
Meat in Banh Mi
1. Authentic Banh Mi Meat
The Banh Mi meat in the photo above is the real deal cold cuts which I purchased from a Banh Mi shop here in Sydney.
- Vietnamese “Brawn” (Thi Nguoi) – I call this “Pink Ham” and it’s probably unworldly of me to admit this, but I don’t particularly enjoy the flavour or texture. ? The speckles are kind of rubbery/crunchy (it’s pig skin/ears) – but when it’s bundled up with everything else in the Banh Mi, it’s part of the overall eating experience!
- Pork loaf (Cha Lua) – basically the pork version of the more common chicken loaf sold at everyday delis.
- Grilled/roast pork slices – The best Vietnamese Sandwich places use pork belly for flavour and richness. Any pork roast cold cuts work just fine here – I just get it from my local deli – or thinly sliced leftover Pork Roast!
2. Banh Mi Meat from Vietnamese grocery store
If you live near a Vietnamese grocery store*, the good news is that you can purchase the Pink Ham and Pork Loaf for a very reasonable price – and it comes vac packed so it lasts for ages.
I never managed to hunt down the sliced roast pork but other than the extra fat, the flavour is pretty similar to the roast pork cold cuts sold at everyday delis so just go with that!
* Sydney – find Vietnamese grocery stores that carry these in Vietnamese neighbourhoods such as Marrickville, Cabramatta and Homebush. Just Google “Vietnamese restaurant Homebush” and a map will pop up with a cluster of restaurants in that area – that’s where the grocery stores are too.
3. Local Grocery Store Banh Mi Meats!
OK! Now here’s the part I’m MOST excited about – the BEST substitutions for Banh Mi Meat you can buy from the deli at everyday local supermarket (Woolies, Coles ????):
- Roast pork cold cuts
- Chicken loaf
- Brawn (aka head cheese)
The textures and flavours of these once combined with all the other “stuff” that’s crammed into the baguette, the overall taste is astonishingly similar to a real Banh Mi!
Different types of Banh Mi fillings
There’s actually a wide variety of fillings both in and outside of Vietnam, ranging from fish to grilled meats, pork floss, tofu and even ice cream!
The most well known ones that I’m sharing today are:
- Vietnamese hams – the classic!
- Smashed pork meatballs – hugely popular and my personal favourite. The softest meatballs in the world because they’re gently poached rather than pan fried. Very popular amongst people who are a bit suspicious of the Vietnamese cold cuts! ?
- Shredded chicken – very popular here in Australia, especially in non ethnic suburbs (like, ahem, the Northern Beaches in Sydney were I reside…?)
Smashed Pork Meatball Banh Mi
If you ever see me standing outside a Banh Mi shop, it’s probably because I’m paralysed with indecision, torn between sticking with the classic or going with my personal favourite – Banh Mi meatballs. ? (#FirstWorldProblems)
The agony of indecision is usually resolved by either: a) ensuring someone I’m with is getting the other version; b) getting one of each. ??♀️
Banh Mi pork meatballs may well be the softest meatball you’ll ever have because they’re poached in a Vietnamese broth rather than pan fried. This makes them easy to “smash” to squish into the baguette – the soft texture makes them meld in so nicely with the pate and mayo!
See here for the recipe – Banh Mi Meatballs.
Chicken Banh Mi
Shredded chicken Banh Mi is not as common in Vietnam but hugely popular here in Sydney.
It’s also a really quick ‘n easy way to get a Banh Mi fix, and a great way to make one rotisserie chicken feed plenty of people (1 medium size probably makes 8 – 10 Banh Mi).
Banh Mi Sauce
Believe it or not, the most common sauce I see being used by Banh Mi vendors is Maggi Seasoning! Maggi Seasoning is like an Asian Worcestershire sauce – it’s got more layers of flavour than straight soy sauce.
Some shops mix their own using a combination of soy, fish sauce, garlic and sugar – I’ve provided a copycat of Maggi Seasoning in the recipe!
Maggi Seasoning is sold at large supermarkets in Australia (eg Woolies) and at Asian grocery stores.
Use leftovers like an Asian Worcestershire sauce, to add a boost of umami flavour into all things Asian! Also can use in place of soy sauce – but use about half the quantity because Maggi Seasoning is saltier.
The irony of Banh Mi – after all that explanation and photos – is that the making part is a cinch. No harder than any normal sandwich! ?
Here’s how it’s assembled:
- Split the roll down the top middle (not along the side like you’d normally do)
- Smear with pate then mayo on one side (both if you’re feeling super indulgent)
- Jam in the ham, cucumber strips, carrot, green onion, then lastly coriander/cilantro
- Finish with a sprinkle of chilli (go hard or go home!?) and a little sprinkle of Maggi Seasoning (about 1/2 tsp)
How to eat it / keep it
You don’t need me to tell you how to eat a sandwich, but I’m going to tell you anyway!
The idea is that you grab the crusty roll, give it a good squeeze to make everything inside meld together and deflate so it can fit inside your mouth. (OK, so this is not an official Banh Mi Eating Technique, it’s just what I do ?)
As you munch through it, you get breadcrumbs down the front of your (probably black) top, you’ve probably got mayo and pate smeared around your mouth, and there’s probably bits of carrot sticking out of your mouth.
You know you look totally unclassy and you just don’t care. Cause you’re eating a BANH MI!!! – Nagi x
PS Oh – the keeping part! To take it somewhere, just store the sauce separately and sprinkle just before eating. Other than that, the roll will keep for a day or so in the fridge, though it won’t be quite as crusty. I frequently get takeaway Banh Mi, and the only thing lacking is the crustiness.
More Vietnamese Food Favourites
- Vietnamese Pho recipe
- Bun Cha (Vietnamese Meatballs!)
- Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls
- Vietnamese Caramel Pork
- Vietnamese Noodles with Lemongrass Chicken
- See all Vietnamese recipes
Watch how to make it
Banh Mi recipe
- 4 crusty long bread rolls (Note 1)
- 6 tbsp pork or chicken pate (Note 2)
- 6 tbsp mayonnaise (Note 3)
- 4 - 8 slices Thi Nguoi ("pink ham") OR brawn (aka head cheese, Note 4)
- 4 - 8 slices Cha Lua Vietnamese pork loaf OR chicken loaf (Note 5)
- 4 - 8 slices roast or grilled pork cold cuts (Note 6)
- 1.5 cups fresh coriander/cilantro sprigs (Note 7)
- 2 cucumbers , finely sliced lengthwise into long strips
- 4 green onion stems , cut into the length of the rolls
- 2 red chillies , finely sliced (or more!) (or less...)
- 2 tsp Maggi Seasoning , for drizzling (Note 8)
- 4 medium carrots , peeled cut into 2-3mm / 1/10" batons
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) hot water , boiled
- 1/2 cup (100g) white sugar
- 4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup (185ml) rice wine vinegar (sub apple cider vinegar)
Other Filling Options!
- Pork meatballs for Banh Mi (Note 9)
- Shredded rotisserie or poached chicken (Note 10)
- Split rolls down the centre of the top (see video).
- Spread 1.5 tbsp pate on one side, then 1.5 tbsp mayonnaise on top.
- Layer in the hams, cucumber slices and green onion.
- Stuff in plenty of carrots and coriander sprigs.
- Sprinkle with fresh chilli - as much as you dare!
- Drizzle with Maggi Seasoning (about 1/2 tsp per roll).
- Close sandwich together and devour!
- Banh Mi pork meatballs - for each Banh Mi, use 3 meatballs. Shake off excess sauce, split warm meatballs in half then stuff into Banh Mi in place of the ham.
- Shredded cooked chicken - use in place of ham. I often use store bought rotisserie chicken for convenience!
- Dissolve salt and sugar in the hot water, then add rice vinegar.
- Add carrot, then let stand for at least 1 hour - carrot should be a bit tangy, a bit floppy but still with a soft crunch.
- Drain and use per recipe.
Life of Dozer
I know I shared this photo recently, but I only shared it on Instagram yesterday and asked people what they’d caption it. Some of the responses were so funny, I just had to share them here too!