All the best parts of a banh mi sandwich—no bread required
I first learned about the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich while watching a PBS documentary called Sandwiches That You Will Like. The show was a culinary tour of memorable sandwiches, and the banh mi sounded like nothing I’d ever tried before. Pork and liver… with pickles and mayo? I decided it was either the weirdest, grossest combo or the most fantastic thing ever. When I finally tried one—on a sunny day in New York from a standing-room-only hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop—I realized it was fantastic. This version keeps all the signature contrasts and ditches the baguette. The bread only gets in the way.
You Will Need
Prep the veg relish. Wash the carrots and shave them into ribbons with a vegetable peeler. Wash and thinly slice the radishes. Slice the onion into thin half moons. Cut the jalapeño into thin rings. Place the vegetables in a medium mixing bowl and add the cider vinegar, water, and sugar. Mix to combine and set aside.
Make the mayo. Place all the mayo ingredients in a pint-size Mason jar and whirl with a stick blender for about 30 seconds. Voila! Mayo is done.
Cook the pork. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add the pork to the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. When it’s beginning to lose its pink color, add the fish sauce, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and continue cooking until the liquid is absorbed and the meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Prep the salad. Coarsely chop the cilantro and basil. Thinly slice the cucumber and scallions. Wash the spinach. Cut the lime into quarters.
To serve, place a handful of spinach leaves in individual serving bowls, then top with herbs, cucumber, and scallions. Pile some cooked pork on top of the vegetables and use a slotted spoon to add some carrot-radish relish to the bowl. Spoon a dollop of mayo on top, then give the whole thing a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a few shakes of coconut aminos.