Salmon Meatball “Bahn Mi”. For those who are unfamiliar, banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that generally has a meat filling, often pork, as well as a combination of fresh and pickled vegetables, spicy peppers, and fish sauce.
It is a product of the fusion of cultures caused by French exploits in Indochina. Banh mi has been growing in popularity as people discover the incredible marriage of flavors and textures achieved in a simple sandwich. The crispy crust of the baguette crumbles to give way to bread moistened with mayonnaise and fish sauce. The richness of the meat (I used salmon meatball) is cut through by pickled vegetables, often sweet carrot and daikon. Hot peppers add spice, crisp cucumbers add crunch, and cilantro adds freshness as well as joining the fish sauce in declaring the sandwich’s Asian influence.
So why, you may ask, did I put banh mi in quotes in the post heading? Banh mi can have very rabid and very vocal fans, quick to point out what is “real banh mi.“ My Healthy Salmon Meatball sandwich was in the spirit of banh mi, seeking the same balance of flavors and textures while not following a classic line-up of fillings. I think I hit the right chords, and it was delicious, sweet and savory, crunchy and soft.
Healthy Salmon Meatball “Bahn Mi”
For The Meatballs:
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 clove garlic - chopped
- 2 stalks green onions (scallions or green shallots) - coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon ginger - grated
- ⅜ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 medium egg - beaten
- 1 splash sesame oil
- 1 pinch Kosher salt - to taste
- 1 pinch white pepper - to taste
For The Pickles:
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- ¼ cup sugar (white sugar)
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 large carrot - cut into matchsticks
For The Sriracha Mayonnaise:
- 1 splash sriracha - added to mayo to taste.
For The Sandwich:
- 1 splash Soy sauce
- 1 small bunch cilantro (coriander) - sprigs
- 1 cup cucumber - cut into matchsticks
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Combine all ingredients for pickle brine. Add carrots and daikon, cover, and let pickle for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Chop all ingredients for meatballs in the bowl of a food processor until finely minced and well combined. Make small-ish meatballs, about 1 1/2 inches. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes.
- Stir the Sriracha into the mayo.
- Slice the baguette and toast in the oven until just beginning to brown, approximately 10 minutes.
- Brush the baguette with Sriracha mayo and add meatballs in an even layer. Strew cilantro sprigs throughout the meatballs. Drizzle with soy sauce and add pickles and cucumber matchsticks.