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. BÃ¡nh mÃ¬ 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 jalapeÃ±os, 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!