Classically, the bánh mì sandwich contains five important elements: a Vietnamese baguette (slightly softer than a French one), a pork-based filling, a slaw of pickled carrots and daikon, fresh vegetables (cucumber is almost always there), a mix of fresh herbs (cilantro and mint), and a creamy/spicy condiment (chili sauce and mayonnaise).
Although you can easily adapt the sandwich combination above to suit a variety of proteins, pork has always been an excellent pairing because of its ability to add a touch of richness to the sandwich. If you’re eating the dish cold, pork-based cold cuts paired with thin slices of pâté (definitely a French relic!) are a great way to go. However, hot versions of the sandwich are equally amazing, and pork belly is an excellent choice. A pairing of caramelized, umami-rich chunks of roasted pork belly in contrast with bright acidic pickles and a creamy mayonnaise? This is a sandwich of perfect bites, in every bite.
For the pork:
- 1 pound Ontario pork belly, sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, sliced
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) dark soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) brown sugar
- 2 bird’s eye chilies, sliced
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) neutral cooking oil
For the carrot-daikon slaw:
- Thinly-sliced carrot, about 1 cup (250 ml)
- Thinly-sliced daikon radish, about 1 cup (250 ml)
- 1 cup (250 ml) rice vinegar
- ½ cup (125 ml) water
- ½ (125 ml) cup sugar
- 1 tsp (5 ml) salt
For the sandwich:
- 2 personal-sized Vietnamese baguettes
- ½ a cucumber, sliced lengthwise
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 bunch mint (Vietnamese mint is great if you can find it), chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced in rounds
- 4 Tbsp (60 ml) mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) chili sauce (Sriracha or similar)
- In a glass container, mix all the ingredients listed under “for the pork” above (other than the pork). Add the pork and let chill and marinate overnight, or at least 2 hours (in a pinch).
- In a small saucepan, mix all the ingredients listed under “for the carrot-daikon slaw” above other than the vegetables, and bring to gentle boil. Stir until sugar dissolves. Place your carrot and daikon into a glass container. Let liquid cool and pour over the vegetables. Chill overnight, or for at least 1 hour.
- When you’re ready to cook the pork, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Remove pork from refrigerator and pat off excess liquid with a paper towel, focusing on the skin. If leaving skin on (optional), use a small knife to make small cuts all over the skin to help with texture and easy slicing.
- Roast pork for 45 minutes at 400 degrees F, skin-side up. Add a little water to the dish to prevent burning.
- Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. Slice pork in smaller pieces, toss gently, and place back in the oven to continue roasting for another 15 minutes, or until tender. Optional: if you are keeping the skin on, you can also broil the pork at 500 degrees F for another few minutes at the end.
- Lightly toast your baguettes. Slice length-wise, keeping just enough to prevent bread from separately fully.
- Spread mayonnaise and Sriracha on both halves.
- Toss herbs with pork, jalapeño peppers, and a tiny bit of salt, sugar and pepper to taste.
- Fill sandwich with cucumber at the bottom, herb and pork mixture in the middle, and top with the carrot-daikon slaw. Enjoy!