Slow Cooked | Bánh Mì {Vietnamese-style Sandwich}

Early this morning, my son watched in the bathroom mirror as I swept a wash of light taupe on my eyelids. Mama? he asked, Why do you have to wear makeup?

I paused. A little longer than I normally do to answer his questions.

Well, I don’t have to. But I like to, I attempted to explain. It helps me feel prettier. I wanted to keep it sweet and simple.

I already think you look pretty, without all that stuff.

Oh dear, what have I done to deserve this little guy?

Hours later, I was putting together some sandwiches, and still thinking about my sweet boy. And I realized, our food has makeup, too. A sandwich is just fine and dandy, with its bread and its meat, but it is definitely enhanced when you garnish it with toppings.

Take the Bánh Mì, for example. What makes this Vietnamese sandwich just so special? Its fusion of flavors, the influence of French and Vietnamese, and the gorgeous toppings that transform it from plain Jane bread and pork to something spectacular. With the crunch of watery cucumber, the tang of lightly pickled carrots, pungent cilantro and heat from jalapeno – you can no longer consider it ordinary.

It certainly is prettier.

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but in this case, it is also in the taste buds. I think that is something we can all understand, even when you’re six.

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Bánh Mì {Vietnamese-style Sandwich}

Yield: 4-6 servings

I love Bánh Mì and was immediately drawn to Charles Phan's approach of brining his pork in a garlic bath before roasting. Now, you know I am on my slow cooker kick, so I wanted to see if the recipe could be adapted to this method. It absolutely works. The resulting pork is tender and flavorful, and the perfect base on which to build a gorgeous Bánh Mì.


For the pulled pork:
2-pound boneless pork shoulder roast
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 jalapeno, diced
1 2-inch slice ginger
8 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar

For the pickled carrot:
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups coarsely shredded carrots

For the sandwiches:
pickled carrots (above)
2 long baguettes cut in thirds or 4-6 small rolls, split lengthwise
pâté (optional)
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1 cup cilantro leaves
reserved sauce from pulled pork
hot sauce


Season the pork shoulder with salt and pepper. In the insert of a slow cooker stir together the jalapeno, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar. Nestle the pork shoulder in the liquid. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-5, until the pork is very tender, rotating once during cooking process if desired. When the pork is ready, shred the meat. Strain and reserve the sauce, skimming any fat if necessary.

Make the pickled carrot: In a medium glass bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Add the carrots and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Drain well and refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble the sandwich, slice the baguettes or rolls in half lengthwise. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise (I like to spike mine with hot sauce) on the bottom half and if you like, some pate as well. Top with the pulled pork, cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrots and sliced jalapenos. Drizzle with reserved sauce and hot sauce. Close the sandwiches and enjoy.

Adapted from Charles Phan's Garlic-Brined Pork Bahn Mi, via Food & Wine.

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by Liren Baker on January 13, 2012

32 Responses to “Slow Cooked | Bánh Mì {Vietnamese-style Sandwich}”

  1. jenjenk January 13, 2012 @ 7:53 am (#

    awwww…i need a kid like that in my life [you know, on a loaner basis…] :)

    • Liren replied: — January 13th, 2012 @ 8:09 am

      Aw, Jen :) Feel free to borrow mine anytime! They could use an Auntie Jen in their lives :)

  2. Mindy January 13, 2012 @ 8:16 am (#

    Your killin’ my weekly menu plans with these back to back mouth waterers!
    This is one of my favorite sammies – can’t wait to recreate it at home.

    • Liren replied: — January 13th, 2012 @ 8:40 am

      Don’t mean to throw a wrench in your menu plans, but hope you do get to make it soon :) Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane January 13, 2012 @ 8:17 am (#

    Your little guy sounds entirely too good to be true (I hope mine is as insightful and wise! ;-)). I’ve been looking for a good Bánh Mì recipe, so thanks for the inspiration.

    • Liren replied: — January 13th, 2012 @ 8:41 am

      Oh, yours will be! Of course, there will be moments, where he won’t be the sweetest, but it’s gems like this that we need to hold on to :)

  4. Lisa [With Style and Grace] January 13, 2012 @ 8:39 am (#

    what a beautiful sandwich!

    • Liren replied: — January 13th, 2012 @ 8:41 am

      Thanks Lisa! Hope you’re having fun at Alt – wish I was there, too!

  5. Steph January 13, 2012 @ 8:57 am (#


  6. Bonnie January 13, 2012 @ 11:58 am (#

    I have been wanting to try bahn mi. This will be in the weekend rotation. It looks beautiful as well.

  7. merry jennifer January 13, 2012 @ 12:27 pm (#

    You have a sweetie there, that’s for sure. I love this post, Liren.

  8. Joan Nova January 13, 2012 @ 2:33 pm (#

    Interesting analogy…yes, I believe it’s all about the accessories and finishing touches!

  9. Jean January 13, 2012 @ 5:33 pm (#

    I agree with your little guy–you don’t need makeup.

    I have to say your recent posts have been spot on with my cravings. Just last month a friend referred me to some banh mi places in San Jose after expressing my disappointment in not having any decent ones closer to home. I have yet to visit them but maybe I won’t have to since you already have such a nice recipe here.

    Have a great weekend, Liren!

  10. Hyosun Ro January 13, 2012 @ 6:37 pm (#

    That Banh mi looks so delicious! Your photos are simply stunning. I’ve been cooking pork shoulders in a slow cooker quite often. Next time I do that, I will try to make this banh mi. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Maureen January 13, 2012 @ 7:20 pm (#

    This sandwich is beautifully attired! I couldn’t resist biting into it before I took the photo. You have wonderful restraint.

  12. Lori Lynn January 13, 2012 @ 8:17 pm (#

    Those are simply lovely. the colors are gorgeous!
    I posted Banh Mi canapés recently too. They were a big hit, how could they not be, with all those flavors??

  13. beti January 13, 2012 @ 10:05 pm (#

    I saw this sandwich a while ago and I found it quite interesting I didn’t knew that it was this easy to make, looks fantastic!

  14. Kasey January 14, 2012 @ 10:29 am (#

    Adorable story, Liren! I want to have a banh-mi party with friends (probably because they look so pretty and taste so delicious!). I’ve been on the lookout for recipes and this looks like the ONE. Happy weekend!

  15. Joy January 20, 2012 @ 6:39 pm (#

    The banh mi looks simply delish.

  16. Jenna January 5, 2013 @ 10:13 am (#

    I made this yesterday and it is delicious! I even ate it for breakfast today (shhh!).
    I did everything as ordered, except for the mayo I mixed 1/2 cup of mayonnaise with the juice of a lemon and 2 teaspoons of sriracha. Also, for the carrots, I used rice vinegar as opposed to white vinegar. I wanted a little extra Asian flare.

    My parents had no idea what banh mi even was and they loveddd the sandwiches. I can’t wait to make it again!

    • liren replied: — January 7th, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

      I’m so glad you loved it, Jenna! Love what you did with the mayo and carrots, yum! And to know that your parents enjoyed it makes me super happy :) Thank you for stopping back to let me know!

  17. Jocelyn August 5, 2013 @ 9:43 am (#

    Do you think there’s a way to speed up the cooking process – maybe in a dutch oven?

    • Liren replied: — August 5th, 2013 @ 10:01 am

      Absolutely! You can definitely braise it in a Dutch oven in the oven and cut the cooking time. I would say that depending on the pork you use, you can probably estimate between 1.5 to 2.5 hours. Chef Phan’s version calls for roasting in a 400 oven for about 1.5 hours.

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