Vietnamese Banh Mi Steak Sandwiches

It’s hot out!!  We’re in the midst of a heat wave here in southeastern Pennsylvania and as of today the high humidity and 90°+ daytime temps are supposed to last until the weekend.  This unrelenting heat makes us feel like eating fresh, light meals like the Vietnamese Banh Mi steak sandwiches that we made a few nights ago.  The three primary elements of these sandwiches – cool pickled vegetables, grilled steak with an amazing citrus-y marinade, and a spicy Siracha mayo – offer the perfect amount of crunch, flavor, and heat, and the end result is an absolutely delicious steak sandwich with a definite Asian flair.  YUM!

Banh Mi Sandwich Close Up

If you’re planning on making this recipe, leave at least 30 minutes to marinade the steak and allow the matchstick-sliced carrots and daikon radishes to pickle.  We had trouble finding a daikon radish (we should have just gone to the produce market rather than a big grocery store!) so we used standard red radishes.  To slice our carrots into nice, uniform matchsticks we used a kinpira (aka julienne cutter).  The round red radishes were harder to slice with the handheld kinpira so we ended up using the matchstick blade on our mandoline which worked well.

Vietnamese Banh Mi Steak Sandwich

For the Steak…  (Marinade recipe from NYT’s Diner’s Journal)
1/2 cup Fish Sauce
1 tablespoon packed Lime Zest
1/3 cup Lime Juice (from 3 limes)
2 tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Jalapeño Pepper, minced (seeds and veins removed)
1 1/2 – 2 lbs. Flank Steak (you’ll have some extra steak left over; we ate it another night for dinner)

For the Do Chua Pickled Carrots and Radishes… (Recipe from A Lovin’ Forkful)
1/2 cup Water
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
1 tablespoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoons Salt
1/8 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 cup Matchstick-sliced Carrots
1/2 cup Matchstick-sliced Daikon Radish (we couldn’t find daikon on short notice so used regular radishes)

For the Sriracha Mayo… (also from A Lovin’ Forkful)
4 tablespoons Mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha
(Just use roughly an 8:1 ratio… adjust to taste!)

Other Ingredients…
1 English Cucumber, thinly sliced
2 Soft Baguettes or Sandwich Rolls, sliced in half lengthwise
Cilantro, to garnish

Banh Mi close up

Directions:
The steak needs to marinade so start this part of recipe ahead of time.  To make the marinade, combine the first six ingredients (fish sauce thru jalapeño) in a bowl.  Place your flank steak in a large resealable bag and pour the marinade over and around the steak.  Seal the bag, turn it to coat the steak evenly, then allow the steak to marinade for at least 30 minutes (up to overnight) before cooking.

The pickled carrots and radishes also need some time to soak in their flavors so make these ahead of time, too.  Combine the pickling ingredients (water thru red pepper flakes) in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Place the carrots and radishes in a bowl and pour the liquid over the vegetables.  Stir well to coat the veggies and arrange them so they are submerged in the liquid, then cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or ideally overnight.

When you are ready to make your meal take the steak out of the fridge and allow it to warm up to room temperature.  Pat both sides of the steak dry with paper towels,  then grill the steak over direct high heat, flipping once, until it reaches your desired level of doneness.  (Our cut of steak took about 5 minutes per side for medium/medium-rare.)  Once cooked, cover the steak with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Just before serving, thinly slice the steak against the grain.

While the steak cooks and rests, prepare your sriracha mayo by combining the mayonnaise and sriracha sauce.  Also, if desired, slightly toast the inside faces of the sliced baguettes on the grill.

To build your Vietnamese Banh Mi Steak Sandwiches, start by spreading a liberal amount of the sriracha mayo on the bottom face of each toasted baguette.  Layer the thinly sliced cucumbers on top of the mayo and then arrange a generous amount of the steak over the cucumbers.  Use tongs to transfer the drained carrots and radishes over the steak (don’t soak your sandwich with extra pickling liquid) and finish off your sandwich with a garnish of cilantro and the top half of the baguette.  Serve with a cold, light beer and enjoy!

Banh Mi Sandwich

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