Pork Meatball Banh Mi, Or Just Do As I Say

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Christiana George
Christiana Georgehttps://www.thetarttart.com/
Welcome to The Tart Tart, my not-so-tart take on food, writing, and photography. I decided to start up this sucker after repeated nagging from Chris, my fiance, who cannot understand why the sight of a farmer’s market would send me into ecstatic convulsions (okay, total overstatement. I can be quite the histrionic at times).With that said, my interests, though chiefly in food, also span fashion, design, literature, and photography. So don’t mind the seemingly non sequitur odds and ends I toss in posts at times.

I’m very much a product of both my parents, which is hard to imagine because they’re pretty different from each other. My mom is one of those people who tells people what to do. I’m not sure she likes it so much as it’s imprinted into her genetic coding. And this is not limited to just family, or friends even. She will vocalize her opinion to everyone. On the other hand, my dad’s the reticent one. Even among his own family he’s quiet and earnest and not very expressive.

Sometimes I feel like these two sides are waging a war inside me. Should I intrude? Or should I not intrude? Should I let the French tourists sitting beside me, the ones I’ve been eavesdropping on for the last 10 minutes (I always eavesdrop), commit the terrible mistake of going to Little Italy where they believe good New York style pizza will be found? Mom won. I intruded.

All of that is to say, I’m debating just how forcefully I should tell/order you to make this recipe for pork meatball banh mi, or Vietnamese sandwiches.

could make a few mild-mannered observations about how delightful the sandwiches turned out, with their flavorful, tender meatballs. And the spicy mayonnaise and quick-pickled carrots were quite tasty, all of it perfectly complemented by freshly sliced jalapeno and cilantro, and fresh French bread. These assertions are dad-like: humbly-put and modestly understated. And maybe they will be enough to convince you to make these.

But there’s the side of me that just wants to command you to make these sandwiches right now. NOW. Because they are that good, probably my favorite recipe yet (and there have been some unforgettable ones). Listen, just make them. DO IT. I’m telling you what to do, but I really don’t think you’ll bear any resentment towards me for being bossy. They are incredible!

(The danger of acting like my mom is that you’ll want to be all contrarian, the way I am when she becomes too naggy. Promise me you won’t. It’s for your own good.)

Looking through the list of ingredients, I think you can probably skip making the chili mayonnaise and just use regular mayonnaise (even though the chili is really tasty). And the original recipe actually called for both carrots and daikon, but I omitted the daikon and it was fine. The cilantro is crucial, however—I feel like it’s one of the underpinnings of the taste of banh mi.

Have a great week, y’all. And happy September!

PORK MEATBALL BANH MI (Vietnamese sandwiches)

Serves 4 (to 6—each sandwich is big)
Adapted from Bon Appétit


For the chili mayonnaise:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 green onions, finely chopped
1+ Tbsp of hot chili sauce (sriracha works. I use sambal oelek.)

For the pickled carrots:

4 cups of carrots, julienned
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

For the meatballs:

1 lb. ground pork
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp hot chili sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp corn starch
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp sesame oil

For the sandwich:

4 mini baguettes (about 10″ long each) or about 40″ of baguette (from 2 baguettes) cut into 4 (to 6) portions
Thinly sliced jalapeno slices
Large sprigs of cilantro


For the chili mayonnaise:

Stir all ingredients in small bowl. Season with salt. Cover and chill.

For the pickled carrots:

Toss the ingredients in a medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature for about an hour, tossing occasionally.

For the meatballs:

Gently mix all the ingredients except the sesame oil together. Then shape them into balls of about 1 Tbsp each (I made about 30). Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the meatballs in without crowding them (you may have to cook the meatballs in separate batches). Saute them until they are brown and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.

To assemble the sandwiches:

Cut the baguettes in half lengthwise. Pull out bread from the center so that each side is about 1/2″ thick. On one half, slather on the mayo, followed by slices of jalapeno followed by the pickled carrots followed by the cilantro followed by the meatballs (eyeballing an equal amount for each portion). Press on the other half of the baguette, cut the baguettes in half if necessary, and serve! I personally found one half plenty filling, which is why I think this recipe can serve up to 6.

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