A banh mi sandwich is not complete without Vietnamese Pate. While I normally purchase this condiment, I found the process of making it at home so much tastier and satisfying. This addictive pate recipe will have you coming back for more again and again (speaking from personal experience).

Vietnamese pate in a bowl

When it comes to eating banh mi, my favorite part of the sandwich is undoubtedly the Vietnamese Pate. Without pate, the sandwich doesn’t feel complete! Usually I buy mine at the store, but I thought it would be fun to make my own! Learning how to make this pate was such a cool process with a major assist from my mom. I honestly have not tasted a more addictive pate than this one. Ever since I made it, I keep sneaking bites of it smeared over a piece of Vietnamese baguette. I know you will feel the same way if you make this recipe!

Vietnamese pate in a bowl next to toast with pate on it.

What is Vietnamese pate?

Pate is a meat spread that is typically served with bread or crackers. It is made by grinding meat and fat until it is the consistency of paste. Common meats used to make pate are beef, chicken, duck, and fish.

How is Vietnamese pate different from French pate?

Originating from medieval France, this condiment was brought over to Vietnam during the French colonization of the country and incorporated into dishes like banh mi. However since the Vietnamese were poor, cheaper cuts of meat like pork liver were used in the production of the Vietnamese version of pate. Vietnamese pate also has a courser texture than French pate.

Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments

  • Pork liver – This is one of the main ingredients in pate. Traditionally, pork liver is used in Vietnamese pate. However, it does have an intense flavor, so some people prefer the milder flavor of chicken livers. Chicken livers work for this recipe as well.
  • Baguette – Bread helps give the pate its thick, creamy consistency. Baguette is what is traditionally used in Vietnamese pate, but any kind of bread should work. Good substitutes are sourdough, wheat, and white bread. Keep in mind that adding bread with any kind of flavoring will change the flavor of the pate.
  • Whole milk – Gives the pate its creamy texture.
  • Vegetable oil – All the ingredients are sautéed in vegetable oil to give it some color and more flavor. I tested this recipe with olive oil as well, and it was just as tasty. Grapeseed oil should work too.
  • Shallots and garlic – Both add more flavor to the dish especially when sautéed with all the other ingredients.
  • Salt for seasoning – Salt is so important in this dish because it brings out the flavor of all the other ingredients.
  • Unsalted butter – Gives the pate more flavor and gives it a creamier texture.
  • Five spice powder – Five spice powder is one of the key ingredients in pate, and gives it this amazing savory flavor.
  • Pork fat – Pork fat gives the pate more flavor and is also responsible for its thick creamy texture. It is really hard to find pork fat itself at most grocery stores, so I just bought bacon and cut off 1/4 pound of fat from it. When my mom makes this dish, she cuts the pork fat from pork butt. Both work well for pate.
  • Ground pork – Next to the liver, this is one of the most important ingredients in this dish. If you are using chicken liver, you could substitute ground pork with ground chicken.
  • Granulated sugar – Adds some sweetness to the pate to balance out all the savory flavors.
  • Pepper for seasoning – A good Vietnamese pate has a lot of pepper in it.
  • Egg – Makes the pate thick and binds all the ingredients together.

How to make Vietnamese Pate

Prepping your ingredients

First, add the liver and bread to separate bowls. Divide the milk evenly between both bowls and soak for 30 minutes. While the liver and bread are soaking, mince the shallots, garlic, and 1/4 pound of the pork fat. Set aside.

Once the liver and bread have soaked for 30 minutes, pour out the milk from both bowls, rinse the liver thoroughly, and squeeze the milk out from the bread. Set aside.

Cooking and blending your ingredients

Next, it’s time to cook and blend your ingredients. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Saute 1/2 the shallots for 30 seconds until shiny. Add 1/2 the garlic and saute for 15 seconds until shiny. Season with 1/2 tsp of salt.

Add 1 tbsp butter, liver, and 1/4 tsp five spice powder. Saute for 15-30 seconds until the liver is a light brown color and remove from the heat. Set aside. Do not cook the liver for too long or else it will make the pate too brown.

Using the same pan, heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add the last half of the shallots and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the last half of the garlic and saute for 15 seconds.

Add the minced pork fat, ground pork, 1/4 tsp of five spice powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp of butter, sugar, and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes until the pork is a light brown color and remove from the heat. Set aside.

Now it’s time to blend everything together! Add the liver mixture, ground pork mixture, bread, and egg to a blender. Blend until a smooth consistency forms. Make sure you are using a good blender for this! Don’t be afraid to do this in batches.

Steaming your pate

Grease a small 4.5 x 8 inch loaf pan with butter and line with parchment paper. Prep your steamer by bringing some water to a simmer and placing the steamer insert into your pan. If the steamer is too deep, place a small bowl upside down in the steamer. This will make it easier to extract your loaf pan once the pate done.

Spoon your pate into the prepared loaf pan. Place the last half of the pork fat or bacon on top and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Steam for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let it cool down to room temperature (2-3 hours) and put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

Cooked pate in a loaf pan

Tips on how to make the perfect Vietnamese pate

Prepping the liver

It is really important to prep the liver properly before cooking it. Otherwise, the liver will taste unappetizing, and it could make you sick. Make sure to soak the liver for at least 30 minutes to get rid of any toxins, and then rinse it thoroughly until the water runs clear.

Why do you cook the pork liver and ground pork separately?

This is one of the keys to getting a nice light brown color. Cooking the pork liver too long will make it more brown which will turn the pate a dark brown color which in my opinion, is not appetizing to look at.

Use a good blender to blend your ingredients together

Any blender should work for this recipe, but I highly recommend a good blender if you can find one. A good blender will give you the smooth consistency you’re looking for in a pate. I personally use a Vitamix blender which is expensive but definitely the best blender I’ve ever owned.

Why do you place bacon or pork fat on top of the pate for steaming?

Placing bacon or pork fat on top of the pate helps keep the surface moist while it is steaming.

Cover your loaf pan tightly to prevent moisture from seeping in

This is such an important part of the process. Letting too much moisture seep in which make the surface too mushy.

What do I do if I don’t have a loaf pan?

If you don’t have a loaf pan, it’s perfectly fine to use a bowl. The major difference between using a bowl and loaf pan will be the cook time. I did not test this recipe using a bowl, so I am not sure how long it will take to steam. I would recommend steaming for an hour and then using the toothpick method mentioned below to check if your pate is done. In addition, make sure your bowl is covered tightly with foil to ensure little to no moisture gets into the pate.

How do you know the pate is done?

You can be pretty confident a pate is done after an hour 15 minutes. But you can also check if it’s done by inserting a toothpick into the pate. If it comes out clean, it should be done.

Lemongrass pork banh mi on a white board next to pate.

What can you eat this Vietnamese pate with?

This pate is mainly used in banh mi. Most banh mi recipes will have some version of this pate in it. Other than banh mi, you can also eat this spread over a piece of bread or crackers.

Vietnamese pate in a bowl

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Vietnamese pate in a bowl

Get the Recipe:
The Best Vietnamese Pate for Banh Mi

A banh mi sandwich is not complete without Vietnamese Pate. While I normally purchase this condiment, I found the process of making it at home so much tastier and satisfying. This addictive pate recipe will have you coming back for more again and again (speaking from personal experience).
5 from 3 ratings

Ingredients
 
 

Equipment

Instructions
 

Prepping your ingredients

  • Add the liver and bread to separate bowls. Divide the milk evenly between both bowls and soak for 30 minutes.
  • While the liver and bread are soaking, mince the shallots, garlic, and ¼ pound of the pork fat. Set aside.
  • Once the liver and bread have soaked for 30 minutes, pour out the milk from both bowls, rinse the liver thoroughly, and squeeze the milk out from the bread. Set aside.

Cooking and blending the ingredients

  • Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Saute ½ the minced shallots for 30 seconds until shiny. Add ½ the garlic and saute for 15 seconds until shiny. Season with ½ tsp of salt.
  • Add 1 tbsp butter, liver, and ¼ tsp five spice powder. Saute for 15-30 seconds until the liver is a light brown color and remove from the heat. Set aside. Do not cook the liver for too long or else it will make the pate too brown.
  • Using the same pan, heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add the last half of the shallots and cook for 30 seconds. Add the last half of the garlic and saute for 15 seconds.
  • Add the minced pork fat, ground pork, ¼ tsp of five spice powder, ½ tsp salt, 1 tbsp of butter, sugar, and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes until the pork is a light brown color and remove from the heat. Set aside.
  • Now it's time to blend everything together! Add the liver mixture, ground pork mixture, bread, and egg to a blender. Blend until a smooth consistency forms. Make sure you are using a good blender for this! Don't be afraid to do this in batches.

Steaming your pate

  • Grease a small 4.5 x 8 inch loaf pan with butter and line with parchment paper.
  • Prep your steamer by bringing some water to a simmer and placing the steamer insert into your pan. If the steamer is too deep, place a small bowl upside down in the steamer. This will make it easier to extract your loaf pan once the pate done.
  • Spoon your pate into the prepared loaf pan. Place the last half of the pork fat or bacon on top and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Steam for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let it cool down to room temperature (2-3 hours) and put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

Notes

  1. Pork liver substitute. Pork liver can be substituted with chicken liver.
  2. Baguette substitutes. This can be substituted with wheat bread, white bread, and sourdough bread.
  3. Vegetable oil substitutes. Vegetable oil can be substituted with grapeseed oil or olive oil.
  4. Pork fat. It’s hard to find pork by itself at the store, so use fat from bacon (what I used) or pork fat from a different cut like pork belly, pork butt, or pork shoulder. You can use the extra strips of bacon to top the pate with.
Calories: 409kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 33g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 13g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 159mg, Sodium: 526mg, Potassium: 348mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 5751IU, Vitamin C: 9mg, Calcium: 138mg, Iron: 7mg
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