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working up that appetite

Recipe: banh mi

We enjoyed a slight cooldown with sporadic bursts of rain over the weekend in Crested Butte. I’m still a sniveling mess when it comes to hot weather. However, I’m slowly adjusting to the heat and that thick layer of sunblock such that I can be seen in the same place as the sun. And it’s totally amazing.

trail running along the slate river

riding the lupine trail

and always thankful for sunset – particularly the colorful ones

Jeremy and I are still getting our bearings straight on restaurants in town. We have our perennial favorites from the past several years traveling through Crested Butte, but now we’re checking out the other places to see if they’re worth the cash or just another resort town trap. One evening, we went for a stroll after dinner and came upon a cute small batch ice cream store (I’ll write about it later). Jeremy ordered a scoop of ice cream for himself and I grabbed a little scoop for Kaweah.

make that a scoop dog for kaweah

It cost as much as Jeremy’s single scoop of cowboy coffee ice cream, but Kaweah’s scoop dog was a peanut butter, maple, bacon ice cream just for dogs. How awesome, right? We have been giving her short sessions with the scoop dog over the past few days. She’s so enamored with her new treat that she’s taken to pointing at the freezer where we store it.

kaweah’s lick of approval

So far I’ve been cooking relatively simple fare in Crested Butte because our kitchen has the bare minimum of what I consider a working kitchen. The pantry is another issue altogether. Crested Butte may boast some excellent restaurants, but the groceries are another story – especially if you stock an Asian pantry. I have a long list of Asian staples to buy on my next trip to the Asian grocer back home. Before you know it, I’ll be whipping up my old favorites in the new place. Like banh mi – the marriage of wonderful southeast Asian flavors IN A SANDWICH. Be still my heart.

for the pork: pork loin, chili garlic sauce, shallots, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar

minced garlic and sliced shallots

The marinade is for Vietnamese pork chops, but I thought I’d apply it to thinly sliced pork loin chops and see how it went in a banh mi sandwich. I mean everything is great in a sandwich, right?

place the garlic, shallots, chili garlic paste, soy sauce, fish sauce, and brown sugar in a ziploc

slice the pork into large thin pieces

about 1/4-inch thickness

I marinated the pork for a couple of hours, but I think they could have benefited from a few more hours. The plan was to grill the meat because it’s less cleanup, but the ferocious winds sort of shut that whole thing down. No problem! It’s easy enough to pan fry them in a little peanut oil – about 3 minutes a side, if that.

marinating pork

browned in a sauté pan

And now you’re ready to make yourself a lovely banh mi sandwich. I have to tell you that the first time I tried banh mi was in Little Saigon with Todd and Diane, who introduced me to all manner of heavenly Vietnamese treats. I couldn’t believe this sandwich had been missing from my life for 37 years. Each bite is an incantation of umami, fresh herbs, bright and sweet pickled crunchy vegetables, creamy heady pâté, and fresh crusty and soft bread. It is just so right.

pâté, pork, cilantro, pickled daikon radish and carrots, french bread

i really like to load mine up with the pickled vegetables

top it off with the bread

There is a great deal of leeway with what you can put in your banh mi. Chicken, tofu, beef, ham, sausages, etc. I just happen to be a huge fan of pork. But please, for the love of all that is good, please don’t skip the Vietnamese pickled vegetables, because that is the best stuff on the planet. Now, I like this recipe, but I have to tell you that I also like the marinade for this grilled lemongrass pork recipe. Either would be great, so if you are looking for some variety in your sandwiches, I’ve given you two right here.

okay, i just drooled

the sandwiches are so good, we took them backcountry skiing

Banh Mi
[print recipe]

1 lb. pork loin chops or pork loin
4 tbsps soy sauce
2 tbsps fish sauce
2 tsps brown sugar
1/2 tsp chili garlic paste
3 cloves garlic, smashed
4 shallots, sliced
2 tbsps peanut oil (if pan frying the pork)
1 long baguette of crusty french bread
4 oz. pâté
2 cups Vietnamese pickled carrots and daikon radish
1-2 cups fresh cilantro

Prepare the pork: Carefully cut the pork loin into 1/4-inch thick slices (I managed about 3-4 slices from each chop). Combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, chili garlic paste, smashed garlic, and sliced shallots in a ziploc bag or a medium bowl. Add the pork slices, seal or cover, and let marinate for 1-4 hours in the refrigerator. If grilling, skewer the marinated pork and cook over medium-high or high heat for 3-4 minutes. Flip the skewers and cook another 3-4 minutes. If you aren’t grilling, you can heat the peanut oil in a large, wide sauté pan over high heat and add the pork in a single layer when the oil is hot. Let cook for 3 minutes, then flip the pieces over and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove the pork from the grill or sauté pan.

Assemble the banh mi: Cut the baguette into four equal pieces. Slice each piece lengthwise. Lightly toast the bread in the oven or on the grill (enough for the outside to crisp, but the inside remains soft). For each sandwich, spread an ounce (about 2 tablespoons) of pâté on one of the slices of bread. Layer a few slices of pork, Vietnamese pickled daikon radish and carrots, and several sprigs of fresh cilantro. Top with the other half of bread and serve. Makes 4 medium banh mi sandwiches.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

vietnamese grilled lemongrass pork ((thit heo nuong xa) vietnamese pickled green mangoes asian chicken sandwich cuban roast pork sandwich

13 nibbles at “working up that appetite”

  1. Kristin says:

    Mmmmm…the banh mi looks delicious, and so does the scenery. We’re going to visit some friends near Alpine in July, and I can’t wait! Too bad there won’t be as many flowers blooming.

  2. Eva @ Eva Bakes says:

    These look divine! I love banh mi sandwiches, and yours looks phenomenal!

  3. Abbe@This is How I Cook says:

    These are my absolute favorite sandwich. Make them as often as I can. I get the perfect bread over on Federal and freeze it to have on hand. They make every day perfect but in Crested Butte, that isn’t hard to do!

  4. Christine says:

    Those photos, especially the one of the lupine trail, I want to just transport myself there right now. If a banh mi sandwich comes with me, all the better.

    And Kaweah. What a love.

  5. Pey-Lih says:

    Those are some awesome single track mtn bike trails! And of course, what a great way to finish the ride with those beautiful sandwiches.

  6. jill says:

    That pic of Jeremy on the Lupine Trail is so beautiful! And Kaweah pointing at the freezer is adorable! Glad you are having so much fun!

  7. grace says:

    What sort of pate is used? (Sorry, I’m not savvy enough to get the right marks over it!)
    I’ve had these sandwiches at restaurants, but never noticed a pate, so I am up for trying it at home!

  8. laurasmess says:

    Beautiful post as always! Haha… I can’t believe that small-batch ice cream store sells a variety for dogs! Lucky Kaweah!!! Yum! :) I love the look of your Banh Mi. I am pretty much addicted to Vietnamese pork rolls at the moment. We have a bar that sells them about 15 minutes away from us and I adore a pork roll with a good pint of beer! Thanks for sharing the pictures of the trail. Incredible scenery. So far removed from the street view I can see out of my apartment window! x

  9. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence says:

    This looks soooo good! I have yet to eat or cook a banh mi, but it’s on my foodie to-do list. You make it look so easy!

  10. Sophie says:

    Oh man! Be still my heart is right. I usually make my bahn mi sandwiches with a sriracha mayo instead of pate, but I think the pate has really been missing! And I can’t wait to try your thinly-sliced marinated pork in the sandwich… the meatballs I often fall back on are killer-good but quite rich. How good does this look! Thanks for more wonderful inspiration :) (Also looking forward to spoiling my pup with a frozen grain-free, dairy-free treat soon! xo)

  11. JLL says:


    I’m not clear…do you make the pickled veggies yourself or do you purchase them? If purchased, please tell me the brand (same with the pate, please!)!!

    BTW, I ADORE your blog!

  12. jenyu says:

    Kristin – Hopefully there will still be lots of flowers! The different species bloom at different times!

    Eva – thanks!

    Abbe – Oh boy, I’ll have to remember that when I’m in Denver next time. I’m always looking for the perfect bread (and Boulder doesn’t have it).

    Christine – ha ha! Thanks :)

    Pey-Lih – thank you!

    jill – thanks, jill! xo

    grace – You can use any pâté you like! I tend to prefer the smooth chicken liver kind with cognac, but some folks might like the chunky kind. And of course, you can omit the pâté if that is your desire too!

    laurasmess – I love the pork rolls too. You’re so lucky to have a place nearby!

    Brandon – WHAT?!?! Come on! You’ve GOT to try one! :)

    Sophie – :)

    JLL – I make them myself, but you can probably find them in the Asian grocery store refrigerated section (I’ve never seen an actual brand name before). As for pâté, I just pick up a smooth chicken liver pâté made with cognac (from the regular grocery store).

  13. Pork Banh Mi | Whats for dinner? says:

    […] Adapted from Use Real Butter […]

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