Thursday, January 7, 2010

Turkey Meatball Banh Mi Sandwiches

I considered starting this post "so now that we've got healthy and resolved out of the way, let's make meatball sandwiches!" And then I thought better of it, because I don't want you to feel bad about making these, because guys. This is the best sandwich I have ever made.

It is hearty and spicy enough to make me sweat just a little (don't run away from that, there's a way to fix it!), and warm and satisfying. We had these for dinner, then constructed two more minus the pickles (so they wouldn't get soggy), and wrapped them in plastic. At work the next day I added pickles and it was delicious even cold!

The recipe is from Bon Appetit's January 2010 meatball issue, though I made a few adjustments. Adam generally avoids pork (and other animals in the top 5 intelligent animal category), so I used ground turkey. I also eyeballed the mayo recipe because I didn't know where my 1/3 cup measure was.

 Oh, and I couldn't find daikon so I used some regular red radishes we had in the fridge. I tried coarsely grating the carrots but all I had were baby ones, and I didn't want to smash  my knuckles to bits on the grater, so I julienned them. It was a bit of a pain, but I really liked the pickles so it was worth it. Don't forget to hollow out the bread!

If you think this is going to be too spicy for you, don't skimp on the mayo, just skip the jalapenos.

Turkey Meatball Banh Mi
adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2010
makes 4 sandwiches*

For the mayo:

2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 finely chopped green onions
1 tablespoon sriracha

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir. Easy peasy! Cover and chill.

For the pickles:
2 cups carrots, julienne (or coarsely grated)
2 cups daikon, julienne (or coarsely grated) - I used regular red radishes because I couldn't find daikon. they were a pain to cut but they worked just fine.
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar (or 1/4 cup unseasoned vinegar + 2 T sugar)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let stand at room temperature for about an hour, giving it a stir if you think of it a couple of times.

For the meatballs:
1 lb ground turkey
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt

You also need:
4 very small baguettes (8-10inches long) or 4 8-10" pieces of baguette, cut from 2 baguettes
2 jalapeno chile, sliced as thin as you can get it, seeded
16 sprigs cilantro
grapeseed or other neutral oil
sesame oil

First, combine the pickle ingredients and set them aside at room temp. Then combine the spicy mayo ingredients and stick that in the fridge. Ok, great,  now let's make meatballs!

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with plastic. In a large bowl, gently combine all the meatball ingredients. Gently! Compact meatballs are dense and heavy and icky. We don't want that. If you have time, chill the meat mixture for 30 minutes to make it easier to form into balls. If not, press on.

Set out a little bowl of water, and moisten your fingers. Use a tablespoon measure to scoop up scant tablespoons of meat and gently roll them into 1 inch meatballs. It's more of a press than a roll, really, but gentle is key. Line them up on the plastic-lined baking sheet until you run out of meat. I got about 30 meatballs out of the mixture.

Heat a tablespoon or so of grapeseed oil plus a couple of dashes of sesame oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Saute the meatballs in two batches until browned all over and cooked through, turning frequently with tongs. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain, or if necessary a 300 degree oven to keep warm.

Now to construct the sandwich: hollow out a length of baguette to create a little bread boat for your fillings. Slap a thin layer of hot chili mayo over each side of the bread. In one shell, place cilantro and jalapenos, then 1/4 of the meatballs, then a pile of pickles (drain them first). Top with the other bread shell.


  1. Best sandwich you ever made?!! Must try! :)

  2. This sounds really, REALLY tasty. As I read it, I became more and more disatisfied with my boring "healthy" salad wrap sandwich. I'm surprised I didn't just get up right then and run over to Chinatown for a banh mi. Instead, maybe I will just plan on making my own this weekend. I might try a pork/turkey combo for the meatballs, because I sure wouldn't mind having some extras lying around (in the freezer, that is.)

  3. i was eye-ing these in the magazine, but now i really have to try it!!

  4. Looks mighty yummy -- I bet you and A hated these!

  5. I must say, I admire your taste in knives.

  6. What an awesome looking sandwich! Love it!

  7. lol, banh mi at home?! i need to become your personal friend so you can invite me over next time.

  8. Oh awesome! I actually canned some SE Asian pickled carrot and daikon for this very purpose, yet have not since gotten around to making this! I'm all over it. Thanks for reminding me!

  9. Finally made it last night. It was amazing. Thank you for sharing the recipe with us, otherwise I would have never attempted it at home - and it was pretty easy! :)

  10. i might try this looks nice...

  11. This really looks delicious! I want to try making one right now. I am really drooling over here.