Vietnam’s cuisine has been greatly influenced by the French. The country’s colonization during the 17-1800s is the reason why the French baguette became their most popular bread. It gave birth to the equally popular Banh Mi, an Asian meatball sandwich with pickled vegetables that’s housed in between two slices of baguette.
I realize that this Banh Mi is not 100% accurate. It is really hard to find the traditional light and airy bread needed locally, but baguettes from Paris Délice are a great replacement. While there are many varieties of this crazy flavourful sandwich, my remix version uses ground chicken from the freezer to make a lemongrass meatball. The vinegared vegetables provide the street cred and extra punch it needs, as does the accompanying Sriracha.
Lemongrass Meatball Banh Mi (A Remix)
Total Time: 60 minutes / Yield: 30 meatballs; around 6 servings
Ingredients for the Pickled Veggies
- 1 cup of white rice wine vinegar
- ½ cup of sugar
- 4 small carrots, shredded with a grater
- 2 small cucumbers, remove seeds then shred with a grater
Ingredients for the Meatballs
- 1 kilo of ground chicken
- 3 pieces of lemongrass, chopped up
- 2 stems of spring onion, chopped up
- 2 spring onions, chopped up
- 1 small carrot, shredded using a grater
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 native onions, chopped
- 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
- 2 tablespoons of patis
- 2 tablespoons of Sriracha
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoons of pepper
- Sesame oil
- Corn starch & Flour (for frying)
Ingredients for the Sriracha Mayonnaise
- 6 tablespoons of real mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons of Sriracha
- 1 diced red chili, remove the seeds
- Some crusty rolls or loaves of French bread
- Cilantro for garnish
- Pickle the veggies. Mix the rice wine vinegar and the sugar in a cup. Pour into a mixing bowl with the shredded cucumbers and carrots. Cover the bowl with cling film then refrigerate.
- Defrost your ground chicken. Prepare all the veggies and ingredients. Preheat your oven so your baguette can get all toasty. Mix the ingredients for the Sriracha mayonnaise in a small bowl, cover it with cling film as well, then place it in the fridge.
- Put the lemongrass, spring onion stems, garlic, onions, and ginger in a food processor. Use sesame oil to give it some traction. It should become a green paste.
- Smush this green mixture into your ground chicken. Add the salt, pepper, patis, spring onions, sugar, carrots, and Sriracha. Use your (gloved) hand to do the smushing. With your clean hand, slide the baguette into the oven on a flat pan.
- Form balls (or patties, if you prefer) with the meat, coat them with the cornstarch and flour. Fry using sesame oil for extra deliciousness.
- Once you’re done, you can begin to assemble your sandwich. Take the pickled veggies and Sriracha mayo out of the fridge. Remove your baguettes from the oven.
- Using a knife, spread the mayo onto your bread. Follow with a bed of pickled veggies, then the meatballs. Add cilantro as a final garnish and you’re done! Enjoy your sandwich!