Vietnamese Crispy Pork Roll - Roast Pork Banh Mi
Easy - You got this
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Growing up, Saturday lunches were reserved for quick, fresh and tasty homemade meals; Vietnamese vermicelli noodle salad, chicken pho, and of course roast pork banh mi (bánh mì heo quay). To save time, Mum would purchase pre-made roast pork from our local Chinese BBQ shop, and stop in at the Vietnamese bakery to grab a few plain rolls on the way home.
A roast pork banh mi with all its traditional fixings creates a unique balance that equilibrates taste and texture. As the pork belly roasts, its fat gradually renders resulting in a meat that is rich, succulent, savoury and unctuous and pork crackling that’s crispy. The accompaniments of pickled carrots, fresh cucumber, chilli and coriander offset the decadent characteristics of roasted pork to create the ultimate banh mi experience. Banh mi’s have come a long way in Australia and are now a popular takeout option for Australians on any given day of the week.
However, as a Vietnamese-Australian it is now becoming anxiety-inducing to order a simple roast pork banh mi. Directly translated from Vietnamese to English, bánh mì means bread in all its forms, and bánh mì ổ is bread roll. In Australia, ‘banh mi’ has become an umbrella term to categorise a wide range of crusty Vietnamese bread rolls that can be filled with various types of meat, tofu and vegetables, making each roll unique. I’m now noticing a curious trend that takes this evolution further.
Allow me to share an exchange I recently overheard at a Vietnamese bakery:
Person A: Mate, pork roll?
Person B: 100% I’ll get this one, what would you like?
Person A: The chicken one
Person B: Easy!
Is ‘pork roll’ becoming another term for ‘banh mi’? Traditionally, a ‘pork roll’ is yet another type of banh mi filled with a variety of traditional Vietnamese pork-based cold cuts (chả lụa, chả Huế, giò thủ etc.) sandwiched with the usual condiments (mayo, pate, pickled carrots etc) also known as bánh mì thịt nguội.
If roast pork is your preferred protein in your banh mi’s, give this home recipe a whirl to share its flavours with your family and friends. They are a great option for parties and gatherings, and you’ll be sure to impress everyone and do them a favour by delivering that traditional Vietnamese flavour we all love. Just make sure you tell them that they are indulging in a bánh mì heo quay (pron. hel way) and not a ‘pork roll’ or a ‘banh mi’.
500g Vietnamese crispy roast pork chopped 1cm pieces
4 Vietnamese bread rolls or crusty rolls
4 tablespoons spreadable butter
1 Lebanese cucumber cut into 4 slices lengthways
30ml Maggi seasoning or soy sauce
2 red chillies sliced (optional)
½ bunch coriander roughly chopped (optional)
Spring onion oil
½ bunch spring onions finely chopped
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
30ml cooking oil
3 carrots grated or julienne
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons sugar
50ml hot water
100ml cold water
150ml apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
To pickle the carrots: mix sea salt, sugar with hot water until dissolved then add vinegar, cold water and carrots. Set aside in fridge until ready to serve.
In the meantime, make spring onion oil. In a small bowl add spring onions, ½ teaspoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt and mix well. In a small saucepan or milk pan bring 30ml cooking oil to smoking point then safely pour into bowl of spring onions and combine well.
To construct the crispy pork rolls, on each roll spread ¼ can of liver pate and 1 tablespoon of butter, add roast pork, a slice of cucumber, pickled carrots, dress with 1-2 teaspoons of Maggi seasoning then garnish with coriander, chilli and spring onion oil.