This recipe reminds me of two of my firsts in my life. It reminds me of the first time I ate pho at a Vietnamese restaurant that my sister introduced me to. I remember distinctly ordering both pho and a banh mi because I wanted to try everything, and because I don’t know about you, but soup isn’t really filling to me. I always just think of it as a starter to a larger meal, but I digress, that’s not the point I’m trying to make. The second first it reminds me of is one of the dishes I cooked all the time when I was younger, and that is a meatball sandwich. I’ve always loved to cook, ever since I was little, and even though I didn’t know how to make many things back then, I tried very hard to cook as much as I could and as often as I could. So the first time I made meatball sandwiches, I realized how easy they were to make and so I would cook them all the time. I wonder if my family ever got tired of them?
I was surfing the internet the other day and came across a recipe for a meatball banh mi sandwich from Bon Appetit and I instantly remembered about all those times at the local Vietnamese restaurant and those meatball sandwiches I would eat when I was younger. I thought it was such a great idea, and so I wanted to adapt that recipe for myself and give it a try. This is what I came up with and I’m pretty sure you’re going to love it. It’s a great recipe to make during the week for a quick and easy no-fuss no-muss dinner or on the weekend for a delicious lunch. I also think it would be great for a picnic because you can eat it at room temperature and it travels really well. I got a picnic basket for Christmas last year. It’s a nice basket that comes with a blanket and cutlery and plates and cups. Very swanky. And so I’ve been wanting to take it out for a spin. Once the weather gets a bit warmer, I’ll drag Julian out for a picnic and make these sandwiches, you better believe it.
Let’s start by preparing the meatballs. In a large bowl, combine the ground sirloin, ground pork, basil, garlic, green onions, fish sauce, chili sauce, sugar, cornstarch, pepper and slat until evenly incorporated. Feel free to add in as much or as little of the chili sauce as you’d like. It all depends on how spicy you like your food.
**Tip: For more flavor do this step ahead of time. Leave it in the fridge marinating the night before and then just shape and cook off the day you plan on making the sandwiches. The longer it sits, the more flavorful the meatballs will be.**
Using a small ice cream scoop, one of those small ones for cookies, divide the mixture into equal pieces and then roll into smooth balls, placing them on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. The meatballs should be a bit smaller than a golf ball in size. Roast in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for about 25 to 30 minutes.
In the meantime, let’s make the spicy mayo that’ll go inside the sandwiches. You can’t have a sandwich without some kind of spread or sauce, or else you’ll end up with a dry disaster. In a small bowl, stir together the mayo, scallions, red pepper flakes, and chili sauce. Again, add in as much or as little as you’d like.
**Tip: You can make the sauce ahead of time, about 3 days before you plan on using it. Just store it in the fridge in an airtight container and you’ll be good to go.**
No banh mi would be complete without pickled carrots and daikon radish, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend hours twiddling your thumbs waiting for the veggies to actually pickle. The great thing about this is that they’re a quick pickle action. In a medium bowl, toss together the shredded carrots and daikon with rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and sesame oil. Let sit for about 10 to 15 minutes so that the veggies soften and release some of their natural juices.
Once the meatballs are cooked through, remove from the oven and transfer to a plate or platter and allow to rest for about 5 minutes before assembling.
To prepare the sandwiches, split open the baguettes and slather the inside of each sandwich liberally with the spicy mayo. Don’t be shy about laying on that sauce thick. No one likes a dry sandwich.
**Tip: Feel free to use 6 mini baguettes for this recipe, or you can use 2 long baguettes and cut them in thirds. Just warm up the bread before you assemble the sandwiches.:
Fill the sandwiches with the cooked meatballs, adding about 3 meatballs to each. I feel like because of the size of the meatballs and the size of the bread, 3 would be a perfect fit. Of course, if your bread is bigger or your meatballs are bigger, you can adjust how many go into the sandwiches as need be.
Fill each with the quick-pickled carrots and daikon, fresh cilantro sprigs and thinly sliced jalapeños. If you don’t like super spicy things or just don’t care for major heat, then you can totally omit the jalapeños if you’d like.
Once the sandwiches are assembled, you can serve them right away because they’re best when the bread is slightly toasted and the meatballs are warm. With that being said though, I totally wouldn’t mind eating the sandwich cold or at room temperature.
If you plan on making these sandwiches ahead of time, or just want to jump on the planning of this meal, you can make the meatballs ahead of time, along with the sauce and quick pickled carrots and daikon and then wrap it all well in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Then on the day you plan on serving these, rewarm the meatballs in the oven and assemble the sandwiches as directed.
I like to serve these sandwiches for lunch, especially on a picnic because they travel well and can totally be eaten at room temperature. They’re also great for dinner though, Make you can whip them up in no time at all, making them perfect for dinner during the week because sometimes we just don’t have the time or the patience to spend the evening in the kitchen all night long.
Make sure to give these sandwiches a try this week because they’re amazing and completely delicious. They’re packed with so much flavor. Don’t let some of the ingredients throw you off. They all are vital components to this dish because we want to make sure they taste as much like a traditional banh mi as possible. Print out the recipe and be adventures in the kitchen this week. I know you can do it. Be sure to leave a comment below if you do try the recipe, I love to hear about people making my recipes! Enjoy!
- 1 pound ground sirloin
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/3 cup sliced fresh basil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 green onions, sliced
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 to 4 tablespoons hot chili sauce (depending on how spicy you want them) (such as sambal oelek or sriracha)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 to 3 tablespoons hot chili sauce (depending on how spicy you want them) (such as sambal oelek or sriracha)
- 2 medium carrots, julienned
- 1 small daikon radish, julienned
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 6 individual baguettes or 2 long baguettes cut in thirds
- 2 medium jalapeños, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease with cooking spray, set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground sirloin, ground pork, basil, garlic, green onions, fish sauce, chili sauce, sugar, cornstarch, black pepper and salt until evenly combined. Using a small ice cream scoop, portion out the mixture and roll between your hands to a smooth ball, a bit smaller than a golf ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet and continue shaping the rest of the mixture. Roast in the oven for until browned, and fully cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
- To make the sauce, combine the mayo, onions, red pepper, and chili sauce in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, toss together the carrots, daikon, vinegar, sugar, salt, and sesame oil until evenly combined. Allow to sit for about 10 to 15 minutes to allow the carrots and daikon to soften a bit.
- To assemble the sandwiches, warm the baguettes in the oven for about 5 minutes. Split open and slather the inside with the spicy mayo. Fill with about 3 meatballs per sandwich and top with the pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro and jalapeño slices. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
- Yield: 6 sandwiches
- Adapted from Bon Appetit