Based on a recipe from Bon Appetit, Jan 2010.

Ever since I can remember, my favorite everyday, go-to meal has been soup and sandwiches, for preference, tomato soup with grilled-cheese sandwiches.   If I’m deadly depressed, it’s Campbell’s and Velveeta.  If I’m feeling creative, it’s whatever I have in the fridge.

I have a hard time thinking of a sandwich as anything but something to dunk in my soup.

But I’m trying.  Lee likes sandwiches that aren’t meant to be dunked in soup; however, his idea of a sandwich is a hoagie roll stuffed with salami.  Not bad, but not creative, either.

So I’ve been keeping an eye out for weird sandwich recipes, things to stretch my horizons.

Take, for example, the banh mi.  This is a Vietnamese sandwich.  If you haven’t had Vietnamese food, it’s not as strange as you might think, because the Vietnamese were colonized by the French, and the French left their stamp on things.  We ate at a fantastic place called Lemongrass Bistro a couple of weeks ago, and Lee declared it his new go-to Chinese place.  Go figure.  I had a comfort-food soup (big surprise) called pho; Lee had sweet and sour chicken; Ray had some of the best bbq ribs I’ve ever tasted.  Nothing too weird.  No bugs onna stick or anything.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have banh mi.  I have no idea what these sandwiches are supposed to taste like, but what I ended up with was delicious.

Banh Mi with Pork Meatballs

You’ll end up with a roll with spicy mayo, meatballs, vinegar slaw, and garnishes.  I recommend getting the hot chili sauce for sure.  The fish sauce is very good, but if you can’t find it, add soy sauce instead. Rice vinegar is the mildest vinegar you can get, and I highly recommend it, but you can switch off with apple cider vinegar. I made this a few months ago with the daikon radish; I have to say that regular radishes did just as well and didn’t require an extra trip to the Asian market.

Mayo:

2/3 c. mayo
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 T hot chili sauce (Sriracha)

Slaw:

2 c. coarsely grated carrots
2 c. coarsely grated radish (either daikon or regular)
1/4 c. unseasoned rice vinegar (or apple cider)
1/4 c. sugar
Salt to taste (1 t or so)
1 T sesame oil (optional but especially delicious)

Meatballs:

1 lb ground pork (or whatever)
1 T dried basil (or 1/4 c chopped fresh basil)
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 T fish sauce
1 T hot chili sauce
1 T sugar
2 t corn starch
1 T black pepper, freshly ground
1 T salt

Fixings:

4-6 long sandwich rolls, sliced hoagie-style
Thinly sliced jalapeño or Anaheim chilies
Coarsely chopped cilantro sprigs

Mix up the mayo and set aside. Mix up the slaw and set aside.

Mix up the meatballs and form into balls about one inch across; put in large skillet over medium heat and cover. Cook the meatballs, carefully loosening from the bottom of the pan, until cooked through, then raise the heat to medium high and remove the cover. Cook the meatballs until browned but not dried out.

Assemble by spreading the mayo on the bread and dumping everything else inside. Eat well.