19 June 2014

Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Sandwich (Banh Mi Thit Heo Nuong Xa) - AFF IndoChina Jun 2014

I've never eaten Bánh mì, the Vietnamese Sandwich before, but have heard a lot about it. Hailed as the national sandwich of Vietnam, it's sort of a marriage of two different cultures; a product of French colonialism in Indochina, combining ingredients from the French (baguettes, pâté and mayonnaise) with native Vietnamese ingredients such as cilantro, fish sauce and pickled carrots (source: Wikipedia).

Those who tried raved much about it, and apparently many variations have evolved. Typical fillings include steamed, pan-roasted or oven-roasted seasoned pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, grilled pork, grilled pork patties/meatballs, fried eggs, tofu etc. Accompanying vegetables typically include fresh cucumber slices, cilantro (leaves of the coriander plant) and shredded pickled carrots and daikon. Common condiments include spicy chilli sauce, sliced chilli, mayonnaise and cheese.

The weather has been so hot and humid that I didn't feel like embarking on any major workout in the kitchen, so keeping everything simple. Didn't bother to try baking the Vietnamese baguette which is supposed to be more airy with thinner crust, and just made do with the Delifrance baguette.

For the filling, decided to try the grilled lemongrass pork version since I love lemongrass and pork :p. Keeping in short and sweet, basically slice some pork shoulder, marinate and then grill using Air Fryer. No sweat :p. For the vegetables, I only added sliced Japanese cucumber, cilantro and made my own shredded pickled carrots and daikon. As for condiments, just Japanese mayonnaise. Was too lazy to do homemade mayonnaise like what most of the recipes recommended. Some recipes also recommended spreading some chicken liver pâté, but I'm not a fan so skipped it.

Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Sandwich
(reference from The Ravenous Couple and Viet World Kitchen, makes about 6-7 sandwich)
  • 2 french baguette
  • 6-7 slices grilled lemongrass pork (recipe below)
  • Pickled daikon and carrot (recipe below)
  • Japanese cucumber, cut into 6" length and sliced
  • Cilantro, mayonnaise
  1. Slice the baguette into 6 inch (or 15cm) lengths. Half each baguette length-wise and toast for one minute.
  2. Spread some mayonnaise on the insides of the baguette, add 2 slices of cucumber, followed by grilled pork, some pickled daikon and carrot and lastly few sprigs of cilantro.
  3. Best serve warm.

Pickled Daikon and Carrot
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/4 pc daikon
  • 1 pc red chilli
  1. Combine the white vinegar, brown rice vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a pot and heat over medium fire. Once the mixture boils and sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and cool down.
  2. Shred the carrot and daikon, like matchsticks. Slice the red chilli into small pieces.
  3. Add the shredded carrot, daikon and red chilli into the pickling liquid. Chill for at least one hour before use.

Grilled Lemongrass Pork
(reference from The Ravenous Couple and Viet World Kitchen)
  • 230g pork shoulder butt
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 cloves shallot
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3/4 tbsp dark soy sauce
  1. Slice the pork shoulder into 1/4 inch thickness. Tenderise the pork slices and set aside.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients into a blender/mini electric chopper. Blend till a paste forms. There will still be fragments of lemongrass in the paste.
  3. Marinate the pork slices for at least one hour at room temperature (covered) or in chiller overnight.
  4. Place the pork slices in the wire mesh of the Air Fryer, grill for 5-6 minutes at 180 degree Celsius, turning over once.
  5. Best serve warm.
The lemongrass pork tasted so delicious already on its own! As I love lemongrass, I added a whole stalk of it and I enjoyed chewing the fragments. Actually only half a stalk is required, so for those who just want a whiff of lemongrass taste, please adjust accordingly. The meat was tender, juicy, sweet, salty and aromatic! I think I can make this as a dish for one of my family dinner or just it as a filling for the Vietnamese Summer Roll :)

Although the Banh Mi looked very much like Delifrance or Subway sandwiches, but no, it's much more complex and colourful in terms of taste and texture. I love how the tastes and textures complemented one another, the crispy crust, the juicy and succulent pork which was perfectly marinated, the fragrance from the lemongrass and cilantro, not forgetting the tangy pickled carrots and daikon, the refreshing cucumber as well as the smooth and creamy mayonnaise. Unfortunately, I felt that the store-bought baguette was a little too chewy and hence my jaws got a little tired from chewing the bread :(

Anyways, I would say that the Banh Mi is indeed tantalizing and if I were to go Vietnam one day, I would love to go for the real deal.

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest – IndoChina hosted by Kelly Siew Cooks.


  1. My favorite food. That looks delicious. Great post! I found it very useful. Love the final result. Thanks for the inspiration and the tips.

  2. I haven't eat Banh Mi for a long time, gonna make it again one of these days!