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Vietnamese-Style Banh Mi Burgers (Food & Wine)

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I recently received a link to this recipe in e-mail:
http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/vi...

Having never had banh mi, and recognizing this is not the real deal, I'm wondering if these burgers might be better made with ground pork than ground beef--or maybe a combo of the two. Or ground chicken, even. Those of you wiser to the ways of banh mi (or this recipe), please weigh in. And what do you think of the curry powder inclusion?

Based on what I've learned so far, I should add cucumbers, too. I'd also replace the Tabasco with sriracha. I think these would be fun as little mini-burgers over a salad for something different--maybe with crushed peanuts over the top as served in my local Vietnamese joint. I can skip the baguette altogether and feel better about eating a sexy salad. Hmmmmm. Thoughts?

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  1. curry powder is fine for beef or chicken. It's not like traditional banh mi, but it wouldn't be totally ridiculous.

    The weirdest thing is the tomato in the mayonnaise. That is just not done. You should be getting the tart/sweet of tomato already in the pickled vegetables.

    If you want to do pork, I would go "nem nuong" style- sweetened with sugar, spiced with black pepper (maybe a tiny bit of cinnamon if you want) some garlic, and nuoc mam.

    Tabasco or sriracha. Chilis would work, too, like jalapeno or habanero.

    Crushed peanuts on a salad, but you don't need it in the sandwich (there is plenty of textural play going on already.)

    3 Replies
    1. re: jaykayen

      See, I'm glad I posted this. This is just the type of feedback I was looking for. I make sriracha mayo all the time sans tomato puree. Cinnamon is a neat idea for the pork--thank you! And I agree totally about the crushed peanuts = salad only. I'm just trying to save myself from heaping this all on a buttered baguette. :) Not that it's not tasty, I just don't need all the bread.

      1. re: jaykayen

        I would not tlike the tate of curry in my banh mi. I would switch out the beef for pork and use fish sauce instead of salt in the burger. No tomato and the recipe is missing cucumber which i think is an important element in banh mi.

        1. re: KTinNYC

          Another recipe I found is right there with you on the fish sauce. Good call and I agree on the cucumber.
          http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/gr...

      2. To me, a crusty baguette, a bit of cilantro & some picled veggie are integral parts of a banh mi.

        11 Replies
        1. re: Rmis32

          I'm sure you're right. But you live in NYC and can find a really good baguette more readily than I can here in the Land of Steady Habits. I hear you, though. When I get to "the good bakery," I will save this idea for sure. In the meantime, I think it can be a fun salad.

          1. re: kattyeyes

            Viet baguette is distinct from French baguette because of the addition of rice flour.

            kattyeyes, if I were you I'd look into making bun, which is essentially a salad with the addition of rice noodles. Almost all the components of banh mi are included, pickled carrots, cucumber, roasted meats (which can include pork meatballs), lettuce, herbs like thai basil and mint, and best of all you can include peanuts which are super traditional.

            1. re: KTinNYC

              Ahhh, better still. Thank you kindly--thai basil and mint would be great. I appreciate the redirect. If you have a favorite Vietnamese pork meatball recipe, bring it on.

              1. re: kattyeyes

                This one looks about right.

                http://canarygirl.com/?p=272

                If you don't have a food processor try to find some pork that is very finely ground. It's important to the texture of the meatball but not vital.

                Enjoy. Bun is wonderful.

                1. re: kattyeyes

                  These meatballs are fantastic.

                  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                  1. re: jules127

                    That looks freakin' delicious. Thanks for the post.

                    1. re: jules127

                      Basil in the meatball? No thank you.

                      1. re: KTinNYC

                        I can only see Thai "holy" basil working in this recipe. Surprised they didn't specify. It has a much more anise-y flavor that would be good with pork.

                        1. re: ChristinaMason

                          The basil should be used as a condiment, it's not something you traditionally see incuded in the meatball.

                      2. re: jules127

                        Agreed! That recipe is definitely a repeater in my house!

                    2. re: KTinNYC

                      Do you have a citation for your claim that "Viet baguette is distinct from French baguette because of the addition of rice flour"?

                      Given that rice flour has no gluten in it, my years of baking bread tells me that using rice flour in bread would be a mistake. Here are some real life experiences that back that up:

                      http://vietworldkitchen.typepad.com/b...
                      http://chowtown.wordpress.com/2009/10...

                2. I'm sure this is delicious as written -- and I don't think I'd spend a lot of time trying to tweak it into something it's not. Tweaking this to be more like a real banh mi is like trying to get Associazione Verace to certify Pizzeria Uno.

                  That being said, yes, it'd be great with ground pork -- and also if you added some chopped shrimp before forming the patties. Like others, I'd leave out the curry powder, and I would toast but not butter the buns.