Classic Banh Mi

Classic Banh Mi

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 90 mins
Brine: 12 hrs
Total: 13 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Yield: 2 sandwiches
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
3221 Calories
175g Fat
208g Carbs
203g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 3221
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 175g 224%
Saturated Fat 61g 303%
Cholesterol 706mg 235%
Sodium 31515mg 1,370%
Total Carbohydrate 208g 76%
Dietary Fiber 18g 66%
Total Sugars 70g
Protein 203g
Vitamin C 48mg 238%
Calcium 974mg 75%
Iron 26mg 142%
Potassium 4391mg 93%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Meat, pickles, vegetables, chili, and mayonnaise on an airy, crusty baguette—these are the elements of a classic banh mi sandwich.

The best banh mi is the one you grab on the streets of Vietnam, or from the little cafe you ducked into seeking shelter from the monsoon. It's ready in moments, doesn't cost much, and tastes all the better for it. At home, it's better to buy pre-cooked ingredients, so that you don't find yourself working for half a day in the kitchen just to make a sandwich. The fully cooked pork belly from Trader Joe's, for example, is excellent for banh mi, and requires only slicing and a quick crisp in the frying pan. If you must make everything from scratch, do it over the course of a few days. Make the pickles first so they have time to, you know, pickle. Roast the pork for dinner. Make the pâté some Sunday afternoon. Then, when the time is right, pick up a fresh baguette and assemble your lunch.

Speaking of the baguette, it's very important. Stay away from sourdough or levain baguettes for banh mi. Those styles are crusty and chewy, but you're looking for light, airy and crispy. The crust should be thin and the crumb should be soft, yielding easily to the fillings and holding them in place. If you can't find the right baguette, look for fresh bolillo rolls, which are available in many supermarkets.

The pâté should be soft and spreadable to lend moisture to the sandwich. Typically it is made of chicken liver, a flavor of mellow intensity that contrasts beautifully with the pickles and fresh vegetables. Some styles of banh mi are made with pâté alone.

Besides roast pork and liver pâté, banh mi can also be made with cold cuts, meatballs, barbecued pork or beef, and even vegetarian pâté.

Ingredients

For the Pork:

  • 2 cups warm water

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

  • 2 tablespoons whole black pepper

  • 1 medium onion, cut into quarters

  • 3 jalapeños, roughly chopped

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce

  • 1/3 cup fish sauce

  • 3 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed

For the Sandwich:

  • 1 loaf French baguette

  • 1/3 cup pâté, store-bought or homemade

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup pickled carrot and radish mixture, regular red radish or daikon

  • 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced, seeds removed

  • 1/3 cup sliced cucumber

  • 1 small bunch cilantro

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this banh mi is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Pork

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic Banh Mi ingredients

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Add the warm water, sugar and salt to a large bowl, large enough to hold the pork shoulder and other ingredients. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.

    warm water, sugar and salt in a large bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl, then add cold water until the pork is submerged. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

    Add remaining ingredients to the bowl, then add cold water until the pork is submerged

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. Preheat oven to 400 F. Remove the pork from the brine and pat dry. Place the pork into a roasting pan and roast at 400 F for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 F.

    pork in a roasting pan

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  5. Remove from oven and rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a week or wrap tightly and freeze for up to three months.

    cooked and sliced pork on a plate

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

Assemble the Sandwich

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Banh Mi ingredients

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Cut the baguette into two pieces, each about 12 inches long. Reserve any extra for another use.

    Cut the baguette into two pieces

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Slice the roast pork 1/4 inch thick and divide 8 ounces of it among the two sandwiches. Reserve any extra for another use. Spread one side of each baguette with half the pork pâté, and the other side with half the mayonnaise.

    Spread one side of each baguette with half the pork pâté, and the other side with half the mayonnaise

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. Divide the slices of roast pork evenly between the two sandwiches, then layer in the pickles, sliced jalapeno, sliced cucumber and cilantro. Serve immediately.

    Classic Banh Mi on a plate

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

Tips

  • For an extra crispy crust on your bread, lightly spray your baguette with water and warm it in a 350 F oven for about 10 minutes before using it for the sandwiches.
  • If you can't find the right baguette, look for fresh bolillo rolls, which are available in many supermarkets.