I never get tired of banh mi sandwiches. They are quick to make, always satisfying, and with so many variations, they are never boring. Besides the roasted chicken version, I also make this meatball version quite often. The meatballs have all the flavor requirements of a typical Vietnamese dish – sweet, salty, and a little umami. Yes, I know that ‘umami’ is over-used these days when describing food but no other word seems fitting for that particular savory, salty, slightly pungent flavor combination that fish sauce imparts. The fish sauce ties everything together in the most delicious way.
I use lean ground turkey to make this sandwich healthier than the original recipe which uses ground pork. The seasonings and herbs make the turkey meatballs so flavorful that you don’t even miss the pork. The meatballs freeze really well so I often double the recipe and freeze any leftovers to have on hand for quick meals later.
Throw the meatballs on a crusty baguette with some cilantro and pickled carrots and go enjoy summer.
- 1 pound ground turkey
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 green onions, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 medium carrots, coarsely shredded
- 4 6-inch baguette rolls
- Handful fresh cilantro, rinsed and dried
- Jalapeño, thinly sliced
- Cucumbers, thinly sliced
- Sriracha Mayo (1/4 cup mayo mixed with ½ teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Lightly spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Gently mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Roll meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs (about 1 tablespoon each). I use a small measuring scoop to get even sized meatballs. If the meat mixture sticks to your hands too much, moisten hands slightly with water. Arrange meatballs on baking sheet.
- Bake meatballs in oven until they are cooked through, 15-20 minutes, turning half-way through.
- Whisk together rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Add carrots and toss until combined. Let stand at room temperature for 15-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Cut each baguette horizontally in half. Lightly toast each half.
- Spread mayo on each half, if using.
- Divide meatballs among baguette halves, top with carrots (leaving excess liquid in the bowl), cilantro, and other vegetables (if using). Press on tops and serve.
Cooked meatballs can be stored in the freezer for 1-2 months.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit, January 2010.