A mere 30 minutes north of our cozy home there is a little shop in a little strip mall in a fairly little town. In this shop they make and sell one of the best sandwiches in and around Seattle. You can be the proud owner of said sandwich for around $3.00.
It’s Banh Mi. A crusty, chewy baguette with mayonnaise deep in the bread’s crevices and sweet and salty pork with crispy meat edges that make you think meat candy might be a brilliant idea. Full sprigs of cilantro hug lightly pickled and julienned carrots and daikon. And if you happen to be driving while eating this particular sandwich and not closely paying attention to what you are eating you’ll likely bite into a firey hot wedge of Jalapeno – not slice, wedge. You’ll then proceed to become the entertainment for the car next to you as you frantically search for the water wincing and shrieking from the heat. Your husband will be embarrassed.
You might not have this shop (Seattle Deli) near your house. For that I am sorry, but it is for that very reason I share this recipe with you. And dare I say I like this version better?! I think I dare. Maybe it’s because I can pay closer attention to the jalapeno consumption or it could just be that these are the best little meatballs I’ve ever had. It could also be that the homemade baguette I used for the rolls was the perfect texture to make this sandwich utterly delicious while not requiring a bib to eat it.
Of course making your own rolls is not necessary in making these sandwiches a great success. When choosing the bread select one with a thin, crispy exterior, an interior with the lightness of a cloud and the craters of the moon to soak up the Sriracha mayo and the juices that seep out from the meatballs.
Banh Mi with pork meatballs
adapted from epicurious.com
makes 4 sandwiches
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Sriracha
¼ teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Can be made a couple days in advance if covered well and place in the fridge.
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro stems, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Other sandwich components
jalapeno, thinly sliced
julienned carrots and radish with a sprinkle of rice wine vinegar
In a large bowl mix all these ingredients together. If touching raw meat doesn’t scare you use your hands – they are the best way to ensure all the ingredients are evenly mixed. A spoon is fine too.
Prepare a plastic wrap or parchment lined baking sheet. Form the pork mixture into tablespoon sized balls. You should make 12 meatballs, 3 for each sandwich.
Cover the meatballs with plastic wrap and chill. You can make the meatballs one day in advance. If cooking the same day chill the meatballs for at least 30 minutes.
When ready to cook the meatballs pre-heat your oven to 350*F.
In a large skillet drizzle in 2 tablespoons oil (canola, sesame, or olive). When the pan is very hot carefully add half of the meatballs. Cook for about a minute on each side. You want to see a nice, dark crust on the meatballs.
When completely seared place the meatballs on a parchment lined sheet tray and put in the oven. Continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 160*. If the juices run light pink your meatballs are done. This should take about 10 minutes.
While the meatballs are cooking prepare your baguettes. Cut each in half and apply a generous amount of the Sriracha Mayo on each side. Add cilantro, thinly sliced jalapenos, julienned carrots, and radish.
Add three meatballs to each sandwich. Serve immediately.