I don’t know the history behind bahn mi. I’m not an expert on Vietnamese cooking, and I’ve never claimed to be. It seems to be the Vietnamese-French version of a submarine sandwich. This recipe kind of reminds me of a meatball sub, but I don’t think all bahn mi are made with meatballs.
I haven’t always been a fan of meatballs. Most meatballs I have had over the years have had texture issues–spongey, too crispy on the outside, sandy, etc. The only meatball I remember really liking when I was younger were the tskune (Japanese turkey meatballs) that my parents would make. They are actually boiled first and then grilled, which seems to solve a lot of texture issues for me.
My husband likes meatballs. He used to say to me, “You should make spaghetti and meatballs! The kids will love it. All kids love spaghetti and meatballs.” I hesitated to make them, because I didn’t like spaghetti and meatballs as a kid and it’s hard to get interested in a recipe that you feel kind of “meh” about. Then I saw this recipe for pork meatballs in the Keepers cookbook. They seemed interesting and simple. I liked that they were baked instead of the usual frying method. After making them it got me thinking about how the basics of this recipe could be adapted for a variety of different meatballs. So I gave the recipe to my husband and he has since adapted it into his own recipe for spaghetti and meatballs. He was right–the kids love it. I will have to share that one with you soon.
Pork Meatball Bahn Mi (adapted from a recipe in the Keepers cookbook)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 scallions, white & pale green parts thinly sliced
- 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger (see this post for information about storing ginger in the freezer)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- grated zest of 1 lime
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/3 cup panko
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon white miso paste
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 2 small baguettes
- shredded carrots
- sliced cucumbers
- cilantro leaves (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the upper third position. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a baking sheet.
- In a medium bowl beat the egg. Add the garlic powder, scallions, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, lime zest, salt & pepper and stir together. Add the pork and panko and gently mix together with your hands (the mixture will be a little wet and soft). Roll mixture into small meatballs and place on prepared baking sheet. (Tip: You can use a small cookie scoop to keep the size of the meatballs even, but I would still roll them into balls with your hands.) Bake the meatballs for 15 minutes.
- While the meatballs are baking, prep the toppings. In a small bowl stir together the mayonnaise, miso, and lime juice until smooth. Slice the cucumbers and shred the carrots.
- Cut the baguettes in half lengthwise and then in half crosswise to make 4 sandwiches. Spread some miso-mayo sauce on both halves, add meatballs, shredded carrots, cucumber slices, cilantro, & Sriracha. Squeeze together the bread halves and enjoy.
Time: 30 minutes
Note: My kids like to eat this “deconstructed” (an idea I got from this blog). Instead of eating a giant sandwich (which is hard for little kids to bite), they eat the meatballs, cucumber slices and slices of baguette separately. Also, instead of shredded carrots they eat carrot sticks. The mayo-miso mixture makes a great dipping sauce for everything.