I know it’s still only May, but I am already knee deep in grilling season. I mean, I love to grill year round, but there is something so nice about grilling on a warm summer evening with a beer in hand in the backyard. These grilled pork banh mi sandwiches are one of my favorite sandwiches ever and they are so easy to make! Other than marinating the pork for a couple of hours, the whole thing comes together in 30 minutes so they’re perfect for a weeknight dinner.
They check all the boxes of what makes a perfect sandwich: grilled, slightly fatty meat, a spicy element, a cool crunchy element, and a creamy element. Trust me, it’s science and I’ve spent a lot of time researching, aka eating lots of sandwiches. Don’t worry guys, I’ve done the legwork for you! Make these for dinner tonight and you’ll definitely see what I’m talking about.
what is a banh mi sandwich?
If you have never had a banh mi, it’s a Vietnamese sandwich with French influence, because, you know, that whole colonization thing. Bánh mì is actually the Vietnamese word for “bread.” The sandwich is traditionally served on a small baguette with a crisp exterior, and soft interior. Over time, the banh mi sandwich developed into a really popular street food filled with various meats, cilantro, cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, chile, mayo, and sometimes even pâté.
While it’s traditional to serve on a baguette, I really prefer it on a brioche bun. The baguettes that we find in the US are a little too tough for comfortable sandwich eating and the brioche buns are so soft and flavorful.
tips for making grilled pork banh mi sandwiches
Meat. You’re going to want to use a nice, fatty cut of pork for this sandwich like pork butt or shoulder. These are considered tougher cuts, so it’s important to make sure the pork is really thinly sliced. If your knife skills leave a little something to be desired, I recommend freezing the pork for a little bit before slicing. You can also always ask your butcher to do the slicing for you! You’re aiming for about 1/4″ in thickness. The pork should be marinated for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Bread. If you’re a die hard purist, find your favorite French sandwich roll. I prefer brioche for this sandwich, but to each their own! Just make sure the bread is hearty enough to hold up to all the meat and fillings.
Toppings. Traditionally the pickled element in the sandwich is daikon radish and carrot, but daikon can be tough to find so I opted for carrots. I like to use persian or baby cucumbers because they don’t have as many seeds as a garden cucumber. You can also use English hothouse cucumbers. If you aren’t a fan of spice, you can omit the sliced jalapeños, but they really do add a lot to the sandwich. Also, sorry folks, the cilantro here is non-negotiable! It adds so much fresh flavor to the sandwich. Okay, fine, you can leave it off, but it won’t be nearly as good!
can i make this sandwich ahead of time?
You can absolutely slice your topping ingredients, make your spicy mayo, pickle your carrots, grill the pork (it reheats really well), but I don’t recommend assembling until you’re ready to serve!
other recipes you may likePrint
2 lbs. pork butt or shoulder, sliced 1/4″ thick
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger or ginger paste
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon sambal paste or sriracha
2 baby or persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
1 small bunch cilantro, with the bottom 3″ of stem removed
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger or ginger paste
1 tablespoon sambal or sriracha
4 brioche sandwich buns
2 tablespoons softened salted butter
To make the pork: In a small bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients (everything but the pork) until well combined. Place the sliced pork into a large ziplock bag, and pour the marinade over the pork. Seal the bag, while removing most of the air, and massage the bag so that all the pork is coated in the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and up to 24 hours.
Preheat your grill to 400 degrees F. Place the pork slices on the hot grill and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, until the outside is caramelized and the pork is cooked all the way through. Set aside.
To make the spicy mayo: In a small bowl combine the mayo, grated ginger, and sambal or sriracha and set aside until ready to use.
To make the pickled carrots: Place the vinegar in a microwave safe container, and microwave for 45-60 seconds until warm. Place the carrots in a heat safe container and pour the warm vinegar over them. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To assemble: Spread the softened butter on the brioche buns, and toast them lightly on the grill or in a pan. Spread both sides with the spicy mayo, and layer in slices of the pork with the pickled carrots, sliced cucumbers, sliced jalapeño, and cilantro. Serve immediately.