Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Pork Meatball Banh Mi...

I don't know how we lucked out, but the weather for this Charlotte trip has been exceptional, if not a bit on the warm (hot!) side. Today was close, if not over, 90 degrees, but boy did it feel good with a strong breeze! I've been completely taking advantage of this while Jeff is at work, walking Gus around all sorts of groovy trails and shaded walkways. We have plans to go through a few houses this weekend, while also keeping an eye out for some sort of temporary furnished housing when we come out (close to permantely! ack!) next time. This past weekend, Jeff and I took Gus around a lovely area called Freedom Park.

Don't let that fool you as we found a lull in the action to grab the shot... the park was pretty darn packed! Gus was sniffin' all over, meeting plenty of pups his size and several that towered over him like a massive building. Here he is taking a breather on a shaded bench...

Now, while you're here, I do have food to share that we made after we arrived back home from the last trip. Do yourself a favor and make this one, soon.

Pork Meatball Banh Mi - doesn't the name alone just sound exotic and intriguing? Maybe it doesn't to you, but it did to me! I mean... meatballs - what's not to like? And pork... come on! Banh Mi did have me stumped though, but this is what I gathered after looking around - think a hearty Vietnamese baguette (which if you were staying true, the bread would be made with both wheat and rice flours) sandwich that can either be made using specific unique ingredients or tossed together using leftovers languishing in the refrigerator - aka a kitchen sink sandwich.

I didn't make many changes to the ingredients for this sandwich, but if you compare it to the original recipe, it may look fairly different. I thought it was written a little haphazardly and out of order; hopefully the way I posted works out a bit better for you. I made this from start to finish the night we had it for dinner, but you could get a head start on some of the components a day or so head of time - I'll let you know what parts when we get there.

Sandwiches usually have some sort of spread for not only flavor, but moisture and to help hold the ingredients together - in this case, an snappy combination of mayonnaise, a couple green onions and one of our all time favorite ingredients, sriracha (hot chili sauce). You'll want to make this first, giving it time to hang out in the refrigerator to settle as you prepare the rest of the sandwich - feel free to knock this out of the way a day or two ahead of time.

Next up for this sandwich is a quick batch of pickled vegetables - carrots and daikon in this case. If you absolutely can't find daikon (a milder white radish) you could try using regular red radishes (though they have a bit more bite). If you are not keen on any type of radish, think about using a crisp cucumber instead. After grating the vegetables, they were tossed with the pickling mixture mixture made from rice vinegar, sugar and salt, then left to sit for an hour while you get your hands dirty with the homemade meatballs. For the best texture, I would suggest waiting and doing this before serving if possible - we weren't as fond of it the next day as we thought the vegetables got a bit too soft.

Lean ground pork, vibrant fresh basil, ample amounts of fresh garlic, pungent fish sauce, more of that fiery sriracha, a small scoop of sugar, cornstarch, salt and fresh ground black pepper form the meatball mixture. Rolled into trim tablespoon-sized balls, we cooked the entire batch in one of our largest skillets heated with a dose of brawny toasted sesame oil. You could ditch the skillet and bake them through in the oven if you don't want to deal with that, but I think I'd miss the rich crust the skillet gave them. You can take advantage of making these ahead of time - just keep the raw meatballs in the refrigerator, covered, for a day or so and cook them just before you're ready to eat.

With a few crusty rolls in hand to use as the vessel to bring all those ingredients together, I do suggest scooping out some of the fluffier insides to make plenty of room to stuff the fillings in. With a bit of fresh cilantro to finish the assembled sandwiches, the juices in my mouth were flowing in anticipation of taking my first giant bite! The juicy meatballs themselves were crazy addicting, along with that zesty mayo that challenged our heat-tolerance. I loved the sweet-tanginess of the pickled vegetables - the one thing I wish I would have done differently was how they were prepared. Next time, I think I would cut them in matchstick-sized pieces rather than grating them. They weren't mushy by any means , but we would have liked the firmer contrast with a thicker cut.


  1. Wow, that sammie looks de-lish. I love Gus pictures, too. He has the most amazing color of fur (and eyes!). We're in the "almost permanent" mode of our move, too. Fun.

  2. Lovely pictures. The sandwich looks delicious!

  3. There is quite a little Vietnamese community tucked in mid town, Oklahoma City, not far from my work. I go get a $2 banh mi occasionally from a tiny building with a milk bottle on top. Good stuff.

    Gus is just beautiful!

  4. The sandwich looks really good but the dog is adorable!

  5. Katrina - He does! Always get lots of comments on those when we walk him.

    DC - Thanks!

    Jennifer - Lucky you!

    BCJ - Thanks.

  6. I keep seeing recipes for the Banh Mi and flagged it to try - yours looks delicious!

  7. That looks like a mouthful! YUM

  8. Cate - I bet you'll love this version!

    Marisa - Yeah, but you can bet we ate each and every piece!

  9. They look delicious!!! I live in San Jose, CA (the 2nd largest Viet community in the US) and we have a ton of places that sell banh mi here. Out here they always add lots of cilantro and thin sliced jalapeno and a drizzle of soy sauce. They history is that the French went into Vietnam and that is why they have some of the best breads and cakes. These look good. I think i am headed to Lee's Sandwiches tomorrow for lunch the best $2.75 I will ever spend.