Pork Meatball Bánh Mì

I love my job. I really, really do. But most days are a Tasmanian devil-like whirling dervish of recipe testing and photographing, and usually what we wind up eating for dinner was left over from some show or had just been photographed for a magazine. Ironically as a food writer, I don’t often work with ingredients when they’re actually in season on account of the lead time. On Canada day this past July I was making gingerbread and mince tarts. Today I was working on Valentine’s day stuff.

Some days I just want to make dinner with no ulterior motives. Today I was working on a cocktail party story that involves meatballs, and so I took the opportunity to take a little detour and make pork meatball bánh mì – Vietnamese subs – that I’ve been wanting to try for about a year now. The recipe looks long but they’re simple to make – and in fact they could potentially be made ahead – the meatball part, anyway – which can be frozen for future sandwiches. I imagine some sort of miniature version would be pretty fab for a cocktail party. I may start packing them to take to lunch at my desk upstairs.

I skipped the spicy mayo, opting instead to spread on real mayo and add sriracha according to each taste. (I’ve a wimpier palate than Mike.) The baguette was pretty delicious, but a tad tough on the teeth; I may go for a softer roll next time. Or maybe not – I liked the chew, too. And it wasn’t too crumby; ideal for at-your-desk eating over a keyboard.

The meatballs made with fish sauce, garlic and fresh basil were divine. Totally. When our sandwiches were done I found myself nibbling at the meatballs, topped with a wad of pickled carrots. There must be salad potential here too. So yum.

meatball banh mi
meatball banh mi

Pork Meatball Bánh Mì

Recipe link


November 24, 2011

Adapted from Bon Appétit, January 2010

  • Makes: Serves 4.



1 lb. ground pork

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1-2 green onions, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. fish sauce

2 tsp. sriracha or other hot chile sauce (or to taste)

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

salt & pepper


2 cups coarsely grated carrots

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

4 10" individual baguettes or four chunks of baguette


thinly sliced cucumber (use a vegetable peeler)

fresh cilantro


1In a bowl, mix together the pork, basil, garlic, onions, fish sauce, sriracha, sugar and salt and pepper and mix it all up with your hands. Roll into 1" balls and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.

2Meanwhile, toss the grated carrot with the rice vinegar and sugar in a small bowl. Let sit until you're ready to assemble your sandwiches.

3To assemble, spread baguettes with mayo; top with a squirt of sriracha to taste, and stuff with pickled carrots, cucumber strips, meatballs and sprigs of fresh cilantro.

Makes: Serves 4.

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22 comments on “Pork Meatball Bánh Mì

  1. Linda
    November 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Hi Julie,
    Is the sugar for the carrots missing in your ingredient list?
    I can’t wait to try this, but want to get the vinegar/sugar ratio right.
    Thanks Julie!
    My daughter blogged about your Chocolava cookie recipe that she found in The Edmonton Journal last week; if you’d like to see it you can find it here:

  2. Lori E
    November 24, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    These are right up my alley. Extra hot sauce on mine please. Mmm.

  3. Jessica
    November 25, 2011 at 2:43 am

    Those look outstanding…and there’s a bakery 1.5 blocks away from where we live now where I can get some fresh baguettes) :o) Yum.

  4. Melissa W
    November 25, 2011 at 8:00 am

    oh…my goodness. These look amazing. Will definitely try these, I know my husband would love them. The photo looks so appetizing too. It’s 8:00 am and I would totally eat one right now.

  5. Jan @ Family Bites
    November 25, 2011 at 11:36 am

    These look SO good. I’m making them for lunch on Sunday.

  6. Jenn
    November 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    My husband’s Muslim, so pork’s out. Would you add any additional fat/flavouring if I subbed in ground turkey?

  7. Meta4
    November 25, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Now I finally know what a Vietnamese sub is…
    Never had them,looks yummy…must try…

  8. bev
    November 25, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Ok, I don’t even LIKE meatballs and those look delicious! I love the asian flavours, so I think I am making this tomorrow…

  9. Char
    November 26, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I used to live in Calgary, and you’re making me homesick for the subs at Thi Thi’s.

  10. Ashley
    November 27, 2011 at 12:53 am

    I love banh mi! This is a good alternative to the fatty bbq pork I usually get. I also never knew that there was pate on the bread until our local Viet restaurant redid their menu with more English. I never minded when I thought it was crumbly meat and juice, but now I can’t eat it!

  11. Evelyn
    November 27, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Made these last night. I had home made potato buns handy, so used those. Hubby thought the pork was a bit “too much”, so next time I will go for a hamburger style (flatter) meat patty. Less meat in each bite. Very tasty – we love Vietnamese food!

  12. Dan @ Dan's Good Side
    November 27, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Those look so delicious. If it wasn’t so windy out today, I’d have to go walk down to 17th ave and buy some to satisfy my craving! Mouth is watering

  13. LesliCKellow
    November 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    This is why I keep sneaking back to see what you`ve been cooking…we seem to enjoy alot of the same food. I`ve been making this recipe since I saw it in bon appetit almost 2 years ago – YUM! (The mayo perks up the sandwich quite a bit, and I add white cheese like most of the Vietnamese sub shops offer)

  14. Joanna
    November 29, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Made these last night – they were a hit! Great, simple recipe.

  15. akajb
    December 1, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Yum. I made the meatballs tonight, and then just put them on a salad. Mixed greens, topped with some yellow pepper and carrot, a few meatballs, and then used peanut sauce for the dressing. Super yummy.

  16. Lisa
    December 1, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Just made the entire dish and the bread from the quick baguette recipe!! I’m obsessed!

  17. Stephanie
    December 7, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I saw that first photo and actually said “omg yum!” out loud. These look fabulous, I eat a lot of these subs but I’ve never made them at home before.

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