Today continues my themed week on the blog of turning classic dishes into dinner salads, it’s been so much fun for me! I hope y’all have enjoyed it too. What’s next? A banh mi. Oh yes.
Read up on the origins of a banh mi here, where I posted the original, which is a sandwich. And one of the best sandwiches on planet earth, I might add. I never had one until my early thirties, but it’s pretty much one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. So last summer I purchased Mark Bittman’s The VB6 Cookbook, and upon flipping through it I came upon an entry entitled “Banh Mi Meatball Salad.” Oh, I cannot tell you how excited I then became, and somehow it’s taken me this many months to actually sit down and make the blasted thing.
Better late than never – I’m incredibly happy I finally brought this cookbook page to life, as it was everything it promised to be and then some. If you also go completely gaga over banh mi flavors, then you simply MUST make this salad. It tastes precisely as advertised, and each bite just explodes spicy flavor in your mouth!
Speaking of spicy… you can tailor the heat to your personal preferences by adjusting the amount of sriracha used. You can make the meatballs themselves without it, for instance. You can add a little less to the mayo, though it’s not much there and I wouldn’t recommend cutting that back. You can also omit the final sriracha drizzle. If you want this to taste very authentic without extra heat, I’d leave the sriracha out of the meatballs and omit the drizzle at the end but keep it in the mayo. But if you’re like me, and can’t think about a banh mi without also dreaming of an overload of sriracha, then please use all of it as directed. You won’t be sorry.
This is just absolutely beyond delicious, I hope y’all enjoy it!
Source: slightly adapted from The VB6 Cookbook by Mark Bittman
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
¼ of a large daikon, peeled and julienned
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
About ½ a baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs plus 2 tsp sriracha, plus more for drizzling, divided
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 tbs fish sauce
1 large heart romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
½ a large cucumber, seeded and chopped
2 tbs mayonnaise
1 handful each of fresh mint and fresh cilantro, minced
Lime wedges, for serving
First you will need to quickly pickle your vegetables. Whisk the vinegar, honey, and ½ tsp salt together in a medium bowl. Add the carrots, daikon, and onion and toss gently. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes; stir occasionally to evenly distribute the brine.
Preheat your oven to 450 F. Place the cubed baguette on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Lightly season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Toss with your hands. Shake the pan so that the bread is in a single layer, then toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy. Remove the croutons from the oven and transfer to a plate or bowl. Carefully dust off any crumbs from the baking sheet, then spray it generously with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the beef, garlic up to 1 tbs sriracha if desired, black pepper to taste, fish sauce, and ¼ tsp kosher salt. Gently shape the meat mixture into 16 evenly sized meatballs and transfer each to the greased baking sheet, making sure to space them evenly apart so they are not touching. Bake the meatballs, undisturbed, until browned and just cooked through, 8-12 minutes. Let them cool a bit while you assemble the salad.
At this point, add the mayonnaise and 2 tsp sriracha to the pickled vegetables and stir to combine thoroughly.
In a large salad bowl, add the romaine, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber. Add the pickled dressed vegetables and toss to combine and dress the salad. Add the croutons and toss gently again. Divide the salad among dinner plates and top with 4 meatballs apiece. Drizzle with sriracha if desired, then garnish with the herbs and lime wedges. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.