There are sandwiches and then there are epic sandwiches. Vietnamese Banh Mi is an epic sandwich. Crisp French baguette with gochujang mayo drizzled all over sliced warm pork belly. Are you drooling yet?
I love a good sandwich. There are lots. But this one has a special place in my heart. Not quite the exalted status I place on the Montreal smoked meat. But close.
Probably because I love pork belly. And I love baguette. And I love gochujang mayo. So there’s nothing here for me not to love.
International banh mi
The traditional Vietnamese banh mi is made with just about anything. Pate. Grilled Pork. Chicken. Meatballs. You name it.
This Banh Mi is a little simpler. Straight forward. But the flavours are huge. Absolutely huge. It’s not straight Vietnamese either.
Gochujang mayo is Korean. The pork belly is David Chang. The bread is full on French. So more of an international banh mi really.
I got the idea from leftovers my wife brought back one night. She was at a funky new restaurant in town. I wasn’t that hungry but I took a bite.
Thirty seconds later I was googling the menu to see what I was eating. I had to figure it out. It was love at first bite.
That’s when I learned about gochu mayo. And I was instantly converted. Gochujang is a fermented soy chili paste that’s everywhere in Korean cooking. Mix it with a little mayo and you have the next sriracha mayo. You have to try it.
Momofuku pork belly
The other thing that drives this completely over the top is pork belly. And not just any pork belly. Momofuku pork belly – as taught to me in their kitchen. The real recipe. Perfectly done pork belly. Best pork belly I know how to make.
Banh mi is a sandwich. So the choice of bread is important critical. Bad bread. Bad sandwich. Simple as that. Fresh French baguette works well. Make the effort to get some. It’s so worth it. Wonder bread isn’t going to do it…
The garnishes are simple. A bit of quick pickled carrot. Some fresh cilantro. Maybe a bit of shallot if you like.
It’s the gochujang mayo and pork belly that make this banh mi what it is. They put it over the top. Way over the top. Takes banh mi to epic status.
And who doesn’t want an epic sandwich?
- 6 oz sliced pork belly - Momofuku style is good but all pork belly is good pork belly.
- 1 half baguette or demi-baguette if you can find it
- 2 tbsp gochujang mayo or more if you like
- pickled carrot and daikon I use the serious eats recipe - see notes
- 2 cups carrots julienned as fine as you can get them
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1 cup water
Have your ingredients on hand and ready to go. Make the gochujang mayo and the pickled carrots.
Warm the sliced pork belly. A steamer works very well for this. Or pan fry a piece whole and slice it.
Slice the baguette lengthwise.
Slather the bread top and bottom with gochujang mayo. Layer some cilantro along the bottom. Place the pork on top of the cilantro. Drizzle with a bit more Gochujang mayo. Top with the pickled daikon and carrot.
Combine all the ingredients except the carrots in a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar melts and the mixture is warm.
Place the carrots in a small jar (or bowl if you aren't going to keep the extras) and pour the warm liquid over the carrots. Make sure the carrots are completely submerged.
Let cool at room temperature for about an hour then transfer to the fridge. The carrots are ready as soon as they are cold. It doesn't hurt to leave them in the fridge for longer if you have the time.
Gochujang mayo is just that. Combine 1 Tbsp gochujang with 4 Tbsp mayonnaise and stir to combine. If you can get Japanese kewpie mayo use 2 Tbsp regular mayo and 2 Tbsp kewpie mayo. Adds a nice tang.