Caramelized Pork Banh Mi

how. good. does. that. look.

I suppose I should explain banh mi before commencing with my recipe.  Banh mi are Vietnamese sandwiches, made on French baguette.  Vietnam was colonized by the French, which explains the baguette.  Banh mi are enjoying a lot of popularity in the US now, especially here on the West Coast.  Portland, in fact, is lucky enough to enjoy a large SE Asian population so we are not short on excellent banh mi.  Other SE Asian countries have sort of their own versions of banh mi (Laos, for example, whose version I had before I ever had a Vietnamese banh mi, includes cucumber and tomato) and even within the Vietnamese banh mi there are countless varieties.  Chicken, pork, sausage, tofu, pate, eggs, pickled vegetables – the choices are limitless.  If you haven’t had banh mi, seek it out, or make it yourself!

Before anyone gets to the end of this recipe and realizes I made these without pate and gets upset, let me say this:  I am lazy and I am a purist.  I was already pickling vegetables, marinating pork and baking cookies and I just didn’t feel like making pate, though neither can I bring myself to purchase pate when homemade is so outrageously superior.  I’d rather have no pate than sub-par pate.  Though pate is pretty easy, (you can read my recipe here) it is time consuming and I was looking forward to an afternoon of half watching the X Files and half re-reading a book I’ve read 300 times.  But I did pickle my own carrots and jalapenos AND I used cilantro from my new herb garden.  For those of you who don’t eat pate because you’re scaredy cat babies who don’t know what’s good: you’re welcome.

I marinated the pork for 4 or 5 hours, and I’d recommend doing the same, because man it caramelized beautifully.  I grilled mine, but you could easily use a grill pan, or just a really hot skillet.  The key to the pork is getting your pan or grill really, really hot, so the marinade on the outside of the meat caramelizes nicely.  Also, don’t crowd the pan or grill, otherwise it’ll steam instead of sear.  Also, don’t skip the pickled veggies or the cilantro, they are essential.

Caramelized Pork Banh Mi, from Food52

2 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2 inch slices (I used pre-cut center cut pork cutlets because they have those)

2 scallions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

2 tbsp maple syrup

4 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp rice vinegar (or white, or apple cider)

4 tbsp soy sauce

4 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp sesame oil (you can use more if you want, but I find sesame really overpowering so I use it sparingly)

black pepper

fluffy baguette


Sriracha Mayonnaise (recipe follows)

Pickled Carrots and Jalapenos (recipe follows)

For the pork:  whisk together everything from the scallions through to the black pepper, until all the sugar is dissolved.  Marinate the pork in the mixture from 2 hours-24 hours.  Take the pork out of the fridge (but leave in the marinade) about 20 minutes before you’re ready to cook it.  To cook it, get your grill or a pan on your stove super hot.  Super hot means you can’t hold your hand over it for longer than 2 seconds.  My grill, btw, has an awesome thermometer on it.  I grill meat when the thermometer says 450 degrees.  Grill the pork for 2-3 minutes per side, nice caramelization should occur.  When that’s done, cover it with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes or so.

Sriracha Mayo

1/2 cup regular mayo

3 tbsp Miracle Whip

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp rice vinegar

black pepper

3-4 tbsp Sriracha (really as little or as much as you want)

Whisk everything together and store in a jar.

Pickled Carrots and Jalapenos

Baby carrots, cut into quarters lengthwise, as many as you want, I did about 1/3 of a bag

2 jalapenos, cut thinly into discs (you can leave these out if you want to keep things mild)

1 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp white vinegar

1/2 cup white sugar

black pepper

a cup or so of water

Whisk together the vinegars, sugar, water and pepper.  Put the carrots and jalapenos in a convenient container (a jar perhaps?) and cover with the brine.  If you have space left, put in some more water and shake up the jar.  Do this a few hours before you want to eat the sandwiches, but really anything longer than 30 minutes will still be awesome.  Keep the pickled veggies in the fridge.

Assemble your sandwiches- including the cilantro.  Note: these are excellent for wrapping in foil and taking to work.

– Cat



Filed under BBQ, Meat, Recipes

7 responses to “Caramelized Pork Banh Mi

  1. Chris K

    Really cool, Cat. I love this sandwich, been eating it since the 80s. Love the pickled veggies. Don’t cha need fish sauce somewhere in there? It is, after all, the soy sauce of Indochina. Good job, though, but why Miracle Whip?

    • Hi Uncle Chris! Thanks! Yes to the fish sauce, but 1. I didn’t have any and 2. I don’t want to scare people off SE Asian food. Lure them in slowly, then spring fish sauce on them. ha HA! But you’re right, of course, banh mi without fish sauce is a little like anything with no bacon fat. Kind of sad. Miracle Whip…because…well…I really like Miracle Whip. I use a little of it in flavored mayos (basil, Sriracha, chipotle and sun dried tomato pretty much comprise my flavored mayo repertoire) pretty much always, unless I make my own, which I do only very rarely. I like the tang. Are you anti-Miracle Whip?

      • Chris K

        I’m not anti-Miracle Whip, just don’t know it — and I am suspicious of anything I don’t know. But I will say, “You can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can’t take the Midwest out of the girl.” Can you even buy Miracle Whip in Portland?

      • Of course you can! Anywhere they care about good sandwiches is a place you can buy Miracle Whip. Give it a try!

  2. Yum! There’s a small Vietnamese stand that opened up recently right by my office and they make the best bahn mi sandwiches, but I’d be more than happy to try and outdo them 😀 Thank you for the recipe, it’s getting filed away as a must try.

    • Glad to hear it! It’s really hard to beat banh mi from a food stand (we have many many food carts here in Portland also) but I always think it’s nice to give things a try at home. Let me know how it turns out! – Cat

  3. Pingback: Caramelized pork | Bestofcorpusch

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