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Birthday Bánh Mì Xíu Mai (Spicy Meatball Bánh Mì)

Bánh mì is a Vietnamese term for all kinds of bread, derived from bánh (bread) and (wheat). But, more often than not, it refers to the baguette which was introduced by the French during its colonial period. But when we say it, we're usually referring to the Vietnamese sandwiches that my boys adore. These sandwiches combine French ingredients such as baguettes, pâté, and mayonnaise with native Vietnamese ingredients such as cilantro, cucumber, pickled carrots, and daikon.


"Mom, can you make bánh mì for my birthday party?"

Sure can. And I love that it's not even a question in my mind that the kids he invited will eat it!

"And can you make them with meatballs?"

Okay.


R had invited some of his closest friends to join us at the Mt. Madonna Range for a very belated birthday celebration; his birthday was in June. Then we planned to come back home for a lunch. Bánh mì could be done mostly ahead of time, so it was the perfect post-archery range lunch.


There are many variations, but I discovered that the Bánh Mì Xíu Mai is a baguette with pork meatballs. It was exactly what he wanted.

Ingredients 
makes 15 sandwiches with 5 meatballs each

Meatballs

  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 T chopped cilantro
  • 2 T chopped basil
  • 2 T chopped parsley
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • 1 t minced lemongrass
  • 3 to 4 scallions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 T fish sauce
  • 1 to 2 T gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 T Sriracha or other hot sauce

Sauce
  • 1 to 2 T fish sauce
  • 2 to 3 T gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 to 3 T Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 1 T organic dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 C water


Pickled Carrots and Daikon

  • 4 to 5 medium carrots, julienned (I used orange, yellow, and purple carrots)
  • 1 daikon radish, peeled and thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer)
  • 4 T organic granulated sugar
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 1/2 C rice wine vinegar
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • 2 t minced cilantro

Spicy Mayo

  • 1/2 C organic mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2 T Sriracha or other hot sauce

To Assemble

  • 4 baguettes, cut into 4 equal pieces and lightly toasted (I did made some gluten-free for a few guests)
  • pâté
  • fresh cilantro
Procedure

Pickled Carrots and Daikon
(This can be done the night before, but should be done at least six hours before serving.)


Place julienned carrots and sliced daikon in separate bowls. Bring the sugar, vinegar, and fish sauce to a simmer. Stir till the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the sesame oil and cilantro. Divide the hot liquid in half and pour half over the carrots and half over the daikon. Make sure the vegetables are as submerged as possible. Set aside until ready to serve.

Spicy Mayo
(This can be done the night before, but can also be done at the last minute.)
Place ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Stir together until well combined. Set aside.


Meatballs
(This can be done the night before, then you heat the meatballs in the sauce just before serving.)
In a large bowl, using your hands, mix together all of the ingredients until well-combined. Roll walnut-sized balls and place them on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 35 minutes until well-browned.

Meatball Sauce
Place all ingredients in a large, flat bottom pan that can hold all of the meatballs. Bring to a simmer and swirl pan until sugar is dissolved. Lay the meatballs in the pan and stir to coat. Simmer until heated through.

To Assemble
(We had the guests each make their own.)
Open up each piece of bread. Spread the Sriracha mayonnaise on one side. Smear pâté on the other side. Place the meatballs on the bread. Top with picked carrots, pickled daikon, and fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

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