Pork Banh Mi Bowls are little dishes of pure heaven. With just the right amount of spicy, salty, and pickled, it doesn’t get much better than this. But why stop there? You can make these meatballs and eat them a ton of ways!
I feel like Banh Mi is a little bit of a departure from the norm, which is okay right? I like a little Asian-inspired foods now and then. Plus, when I make a “bowl” the best part about it for me is that you can add almost any ingredients to it that you like or think will go with the dish and make it your own.
The inspiration for this Banh Mi bowl came from — you guessed it — a Bahn Mi sandwich I enjoyed a few weeks ago while on a little weekend trip. We stopped in a Vietnamese restaurant that a friend had recommended and it was too hot for pho and I didn’t really want a huge Asian noodle dish either. The pork Bahn Mi seemed to be the perfect choice at the moment and I am so glad that I chose correctly. That sandwich ranked right up there in the top 10 best sandwiches of all time, I’m telling ya.
As I was eating it, I thought, wouldn’t these flavors make great meatballs? And, instead of adding meatballs over pasta, I thought rice would definitely make a better accoutrement, and the pickled veggies definitely had to make an appearance. I quickly jotted down some notes in my phone for the beginnings of these Pork Banh Mi Bowls and then got to work the day after we returned home. It just feels so good to turn a random idea into reality, doesn’t it? It’s the little wins in life, friends. You gotta celebrate them, too.
WHAT IS A BANH MI?
Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that’s made from a type of French baguette that’s split down the middle and filled with amazing ingredients. Depending on the restaurant, you can find Banh Mi sandwiches filled with pork, beef, chicken, tofu, pate, or a combo of two or more.
Another consistent factor in the sandwiches is that, no matter the meat, they are also topped with cilantro and pickled veggies such as cucumber, carrots, or daikon. The condiment on them is a spicy mayo.
You can thank the French for introducing Vietnam to their style of bread in the middle of the 1900s, when the French occupied the city. Eventually, as these things go, the sandwich made its way overseas after the Vietnam war, thanks to immigrants who brought their delicious recipes with them.
WHAT TOPPINGS GO WITH A PORK BANH MI BOWL?
Here I have used pickled carrots and cucumbers as my toppings, but you can feel free to get creative and use whatever you see fit. Some ideas to get you started include:
- Pickled daikon radish
- Sliced jalapeno
- Sliced green onions
- Bamboo shoots
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Crushed or chopped peanuts
- Slivered almonds
- Sesame-ginger dressing (in addition to, or instead of the Sriracha mayo
- Squeeze of lime juice
- Shredded cabbage, plain or pickled
HOW CAN I USE LEFTOVER PORK BANH MI MEATBALLS?
Once you make and taste these meatballs, you’ll want to make a double batch every single time and use them with all the things for every meal.
Not only amazing over rice, these Pork Banh Mi Meatballs would be great over an Asian noodle like soba, rice noodles, or ramen. Spaghetti or angel hair pasta will work great too.
Make Banh Mi sandwiches using the meatballs and a French baguette. Top with pickled carrots and cucumbers, cilantro, and spicy mayo for a real treat.
Roll up the meatballs a little smaller than you normally would and serve up a bunch of Banh Mi sliders, using a crusty bread like ciabatta, Hawaiian sweet, or regular French dinner rolls.
Serve mini meatballs appetizer-style, on a tray, with a toothpick in each one. Add Sriracha mayo on the side for dipping, or coat meatballs in a thicker Asian sauce.
Add meatballs to some lettuce wraps and top with the same pickled veggies and condiments as you would a sandwich. Good lettuces to use include iceberg, bibb, and romaine.
CAN YOU FREEZE PORK MEATBALLS?
If you want to make a big batch of these meatballs and freeze for later, there are two ways you can go about this.
- Freeze uncooked meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet until they are frozen through (about an hour or two). Then, after they are frozen, you can put them in an airtight freezer bag or container and label with contents and date.
When you are ready to eat them, thaw them in the refrigerator and cook as directed.
- Cook them as instructed, and let them cool to room temperature. Add them to an airtight container or bag, label and freeze. Thaw them in the fridge and reheat in an oven set to 50 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
Pork Banh Mi Bowls
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- 2 large carrots cut into ribbons with a peeler
- 1 large cucumber peeled, then cut into ribbons with a peeler
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 4-6 cups steamed jasmine or basmati white rice
- fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish
- 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
sriracha mayo sauce
- 1/3 cup mayo
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
pickle the veggies
- Combine rice vinegar, soy sauce, and crushed red pepper flakes in a jar. Cover and shake to mix well. Add carrots and cucumbers, pushing them down into the vinegar mixture to make sure they are submerged. Cover again and chill for at least 1 hour. (After 30 minutes of marinating you can begin preparing the meatballs.)
prepare the meatballs
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet.
- In a large bowl combine all of the meatball ingredients. Mash with your hands until well mixed. Shape into 12 balls and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes until browned and cooked through.
assemble the bowls
- Stir together mayo and sriracha. Portion the rice into bowls then top with meatballs, pickled cucumbers and carrots (discard marinade), jalapenos, cilantro, and drizzle with the sriracha mayo. Serve immediately.