I’m going to rename this blog Mel’s Food Truck. Because most of our dinners are composed as if they were just grabbed from the window of a food truck. You know the kind. Familiar with a modern flair. Casual but flavorful. Saucy with ten thousand toppings. We have a new item on our food truck dinner menu—a Walking Bánh Mì.
But what’s a Bánh Mì? Say it with me now, Bon Me. Not to be confused with my former co-worker Bonnie. Bon Me. Traditionally, it’s a Vietnamese sandwich served on a baguette with slow-cooked pork in a sweet ginger soy sauce, pâté (I’ll pass), pickled daikon radishes (see below) and carrots, cooling cucumbers, spicy jalapeños, plenty of cilantro, a shmear of mayo, and a squirt of Sriracha.
A couple years ago, recipes were popping up left and right for these addicting sandwiches. But I think it was the rise of the food truck that popularized them. That’s where I met and fell in love with the Bánh Mì—from the window of a food truck. It’s spicy from the jalapeños and Sriracha. Sweet from the honeyed pork. And sour from the pickled vegetables. If a dish can hit all those notes harmoniously—spicy, sweet, and sour—it’s love at first bite. And it was.
I have one teeny tiny qualm with the sandwich (besides the pâté). And it really only became a qualm after I turned 30. All that bread. You just have to plan your day around it if you want to fit in your jeans comfortably the next day. Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, I set out to make a lighter Bánh Mì, one I could eat any day of the week without forethought. Which also meant turning this into a vegetarian dish. Because slow roasted pork doesn’t happen in 30 minutes.
Enter the chickpea. I’ve turned these guys into salty sweet snacks before. I knew they’d deliver as the protein. And pickled vegetables are super easy when you quick-pickle them. About that loaf of bread—I decided to trade it in for Way Better Snacks Spicy Sriracha chips. Because my hips don’t lie! Don’t be afraid of the “spicy” in these chips. It’s more flavor than it is heat. Two-year-old approved. And finally, I wanted to pay homage to the place I fell in love with the Báhn Mì—the food truck. So I took a number from the walking taco and piled all these ingredients into a parchment paper bag. Dinner in a bag. Just trust me. You can walk with it. Sit with it. Host a party with it. Mostly, you can just have fun with it.
A Bánh Mì sandwich turned vegetarian and served in a parchment paper bag for fun. It’s spicy, sweet, and sour. It comes together in 45 minutes if made in one breadth, but most everything can be prepped ahead of time.
Make Glaze. Into a high-powered blender, combine all the ingredients and blitz until smooth and combined. Set aside. Can be made several days in advance and stored covered in the fridge.
Make Sauce. Stir together 1/3 cup of the glaze with the mayonnaise. Set aside. Can be made several days in advance and stored covered in the fridge.
Pickle Vegetables. Peel and chop equal parts carrots and daikon radishes (about 3/4 cup) into 1.5″ long matchsticks. Follow 30 minute quick-pickling recipe. Can be made several days in advance and stored covered in the fridge.
Prepare fillings. Preheat oven to 425°. Drain, rinse, and dry chickpeas and place on a baking sheet. Pour most of the remaining glaze on the chickpeas, reserving just a tablespoon or so. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring twice. If making ahead of time, reserve the leftover glaze and re-coat before reheating. Thinly slice the cucumber into half moons. Cut enough green onion for garnish. Chop enough cilantro for garnish. Thinly slice jalapeños. Cut lime into wedges for squeezing.
To serve, place individual ingredients in separate bowls. Snip the top of the parchment bags off for desired depth. Crush Way Better Snacks Spicy Sriracha Chips and add to parchment paper bags. Set out sauce and Sriracha and allow people to assemble as they wish.
To make this gluten-free, use Tamari in place of soy sauce. To make this vegan, use agave nectar in place of honey. I’d start by adding half the amount called for. Also, sub in a vegan mayo.