Welcome to On Board in 20: a recipe series where we share wholesome, family-style meals you can prepare in about 20 minutes. The recipes always contain whole food ingredients and are intended to be brought to the table for family members to build and construct their individual plates as their senses guide them. Along the way, we bring you tips and tricks for speeding up prep and clean up for those busy weeknight meal times.

banh mi

This Big Banh Mi has been a long time coming; it was just waiting for the perfect opportunity. And what better time for a twist on the classic Vietnamese sandwich and potato chips for dinner than right smack in the middle of the busy holiday season?

There's something fun and whimsical about a bringing a huge sandwich to the table for dinnertime.  Kids will get a huge kick out of it and they can let you know just how big of a sandwich they feel like. One tip: if your dinner guests are sensitive to heat, consider using straight mayo for the sandwich and serving the sriracha on the side so each person can control their own spice levels.

The Big Banh Mi | Food Bloggers of Canada

This sandwich is made with small meatballs and very rustically thrown together with a minimum of inputs.  You could easily swap in thinly cut (or pounded out) chicken, beef or pork. For more vegetarian appeal, baked shrimp or seared tofu would also be a suitable protein swap. The key to quick meatballs is a very hot pan (do not fear smoking oil) and keeping them fairly small. When you transfer them to the oven, make sure the rack is fairly close to the broiler (usually the second track from the top will be perfect) to finish them off quickly and get a nice flavourful crust.

The Big Banh Mi | Food Bloggers of Canada

The key to a banh mi being a banh mi lies in the pickled vegetables. There's no doubt that an overnight soak in vinegar is going to yield a much tangier and crunchier veg, but in a pinch, this quick pickle recipe provides just the right amount of brine to offset the creamy mayo. For ease (and speed), the baguette is left fresh in this recipe, but you could easily toast it at the same time as the meatballs are finishing.

And while I would not normally condone a bag of potato chips as a side for dinner, it really does work here. Warming them up and topping them with green onion and cilantro (and maybe even a drizzle of sriracha) makes them just a hint more special for that busy weeknight dinner. Enjoy!

On Board in 20: Big Bahn Mi
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large carrot (very large, like a juicing one)
  • 6-inch piece of daikon
  • ½ long English cucumber
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons white, granulated sugar
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 5 green onions, chopped & divided
  • 1 baguette, about 2 feet long
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons scriaccha
  • 1 bag plain kettle chips
  • large bunch of fresh cilantro
  • Optional: red and green jalapeno, sliced
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  1. Preheat the oven broiler. Preheat a large, heavy cast iron pan over medium heat with olive oil.
  2. Using a julienne peeler, peel the carrot and daikon and place in a glass measuring jar.
  3. Using a mandolin, slice the cucumber into ¼ inch slices. Add to the jar.
  4. Fill the jar with the vinegar and sugar and still until all vegetables are well combined. Press down so everything is covered with the vinegar solution and set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, mash together the pork, oil, garlic, fish sauce and ¼ cup of sliced green onions. Form small meatballs (rustically) and drop them into the cast iron pan as you form them. Give the pan a shake to loosen the meatballs every few minutes. Once they have browned (about 6 minutes), transfer the pan to the oven. Depending on the size of the meatballs, they should take an additional 6 to 12 minutes to cook. At this time, spread the potato chips onto a cookie sheet and place in the oven to warm.
  6. In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise and scriaccha. Set aside.
  7. Slice the baguette horizontally. Generally spread the mayonnaise mixture on one side of the bread.
  8. Drain the carrots/daikon mixture and put into a clean tea towel to wring out any excess moisture. Layer the pickled vegetables on the baguette. Add the meatballs and garnish with cilantro and optional jalepeno peppers.
  9. Add the warm potato chips to the board and garnish with the remaining green onions.

Looking for More 20-Minute Meal Ideas?

Lisa Bolton is the creator, writer and photographer behind Food Well Said, her blog about bringing thoughtfully prepared, whole food recipes. She lives in the Lower Mainland of BC and you can reach her on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

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