Banh mi is one of the most popular Vietnamese street foods in the world. This Vietnamese banh mi recipe shows you how to make authentic banh mi at home with lemongrass pork, and how to make it your own.
One of my favorite dishes of all time is sandwiches! I think sandwiches are so underrated. I think most of us overlook them because they are so easy to make, but the combination of crispy fluffy bread with meat and vegetables is just perfection in every bite. The Vietnamese version of the Western sandwich is banh mi. Hipsters and new age food people LOVE banh mi, mostly because it’s one of the least weird things from Vietnamese cuisine. That’s why I wanted to put together this authentic banh mi sandwich recipe. It has traditional fillings such as lemongrass pork, pickled daikon and carrots, Vietnamese pate, and mayonnaise. One of the best comfort foods out there.
What is banh mi?
Banh mi (pronounced like “bon me”) is the Vietnamese word for bread, and it is often used to refer to Vietnamese sandwiches. These sandwiches are a huge part of Vietnamese cuisine, especially Vietnamese street food. The dish first originated when the French brought over baguettes during their colonization of Vietnam in the 19th century and evolved into a popular street food not only in Vietnam but around the world. Here in the US, it’s a staple in a lot of cities.
What is traditionally in banh mi?
Banh mi traditionally has some sort of protein, pickled carrots and daikon, sliced cucumbers, cilantro, jalapeno, pate, and mayonnaise. There is of course a lot of variation depending on a person’s preference. For example, my friend doesn’t like cilantro, so he never eats his banh mi with cilantro.
Some of the most popular proteins included in banh mi are lemongrass pork, cold cuts, and lemongrass chicken. Some lesser popular proteins are shrimp and even tofu for vegetarians.
Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments
- Pork shoulder – The main protein in my lemongrass pork banh mi. I love using pork shoulder because it has a great fat to meat ratio. Good substitutes for pork shoulder are pork belly and pork butt. You can also use leaner cuts of pork like pork chops or pork loin, but personally, I don’t think it’ll taste as good.
- Garlic – Adds flavor to the pork shoulder and helps cover the gross meat-y taste of the pork.
- Fish sauce – This ingredient adds yummy umami flavor to the pork.
- Neutral oil – I would use vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, or olive oil.
- Dark brown sugar – Adds sweetness to the marinade. This can be substituted with light brown sugar.
- Corn starch – Helps add brown color to the pork.
- Pepper for seasoning
- Baguettes – I would not substitute anything else for baguettes for the most authentic Vietnamese banh mi. Use either Vietnamese baguettes or French baguettes.
- Cha lua – Cha lua is a pork sausage made by steaming pork in a banana leaf. It is definitely an acquired taste, so you can leave it out if you don’t like it.
- Pate & mayonnaise – Like the baguette, these are French ingredients that add amazing flavor to the banh mi. Any kind of pate and mayonnaise should work for this banh mi. I personally like using Kewpie mayo because it’s richer in flavor. For the pate, I prefer the Flower Brand Cured Pork Liver Pate because it is the easiest to spread and has the best flavor in my opinion. You can also choose to make your own homemade Vietnamese pate.
- Cilantro, cucumbers, and jalapeno – Fresh vegetables provides balance to the richer ingredients.
- Pickled carrots and daikon – Like the fresh vegetables above, these pickled vegetables provide more balance to the sandwich. Get the recipe for my pickled carrots and daikon here
What is the best bread to use for banh mi?
The best kind of bread to use for banh mi is Vietnamese baguettes! These kinds of bread have a crunch, brown exterior with a soft fluffy interior. They are a little different from French baguettes because they use rice flour which gives them a thin, crunchy exterior skin. If you can’t find Vietnamese baguettes, French baguettes are a great substitute.
How to make banh mi at home
First prep the cha lua, cucumbers, and jalapeños by thinly slicing them. Set them aside in the fridge. Combine all the ingredients for the lemongrass pork in a bowl. Make sure the lemongrass pork is coated in the marinade. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. Next heat a grill pan or regular pan over high heat. Cook the pork for 1-2 minutes on each side until it is brown. Set aside the pork.
Now it’s time to put together your pork banh mi. Slice the baguette about halfway, so you can open it like a Subway sandwich. Smear the pate on one side and the mayonnaise on the other side. Add the lemongrass pork, cha lua, cilantro, cucumbers, pickled carrots, pickled daikon, and jalapeño to the baguette, and you’re done! Make sure to serve and eat right away for the best flavor and texture.
Banh Mi Video
Tips on how to make the most authentic Vietnamese banh mi
Marinate lemongrass pork overnight
Typically when my mom makes lemongrass pork, she likes to marinate her meat overnight. This gives the flavor more time to develop.
How to make banh mi with other fillings
Banh mi comes with a lot of different proteins. Banh mi with Vietnamese ham and other cold cuts is the most popular kind of banh mi. Lemongrass pork is probably this second most popular kind of banh mi. Other kinds of banh mi fillings include lemongrass chicken, tofu, and even shrimp. Check out my recipes for lemongrass chicken banh mi and tofu banh mi if you’re interested in something different!
How do you store banh mi?
Banh mi does not last that long, so if you make it, I would eat it within 3 days. Store every component of the banh mi separately. Store the fillings in airtight containers in the fridge. The bread can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container. The bread tends to get pretty hard on the third day, so make sure to finish it by then.
Did you make this dish?
If you made this dish, I would love to see!
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Authentic Banh Mi Recipe with Lemongrass Pork
- 1 ¼ lb pork shoulder see note 2
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 stalks lemongrass minced
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil see note 3
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 baguettes halved
- 1 roll cha lua thinly sliced, optional, see note 4
- ¼ cup pate
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp cilantro
- 2 Persian cucumbers thinly sliced
- ¼ cup pickled carrots
- ¼ cup pickled daikon
- 1 jalapeno thinly sliced, optional
- First prep your cha lua, cucumbers, and jalapeño. Thinly slice all these ingredients and set aside in the fridge.
- Combine all the ingredients for the lemongrass pork in a bowl. Make sure the pork is coated in the marinade. Let the pork marinate for at least 30 minutes. I like to marinate overnight.
- Heat a grill pan or regular pan over high heat. Cook the pork for 1-2 minutes on each side until brown. Set aside.
- Put together your banh mi. Cut the baguette about halfway through length wise, so you can open it like a Subway sandwich. Smear mayonnaise on one side of the baguette and pate on the other side of the baguette. Add the lemongrass pork, cha lua, cilantro, cucumbers, pickled carrots, pickled daikon, and jalapeño to the baguette.
- Serve right away for the best flavor and texture.
- Pork shoulder substitute. Pork should can be substituted with pork butt or pork belly. Leaner cuts such as pork loin can be used, but it will be dryer and less flavorful.
- Vegetable oil substitute. Vegetable oil can be substituted with olive oil or grapeseed oil
- Cha lua note. If you don’t like cha lua or can’t find it, feel free to leave it out of the sandwich.
- Marinate lemongrass pork overnight. Typically when my mom makes lemongrass pork, she likes to marinate her meat overnight. This gives the flavor more time to develop.
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