Pork Belly Banh Mi

Try your hand at making this famous Vietnamese sandwich at home, complete with caramelized pork belly and quick pickled vegetables.

By Peter Nguyen
Jul 27, 2022
90 Minutes
4 Servings

If you haven’t ever tried a banh mi, it’s high time we fix that. Alternately, if you’re familiar with the Vietnamese sandwich but have never attempted it at home, well, it’s time to fix that too. Chef Peter Nguyen of Houston’s Riel breaks down caramelizing the pork belly and making some quick pickled carrots and daikon, and once those things are done, the whole thing comes together quickly. Try and find a French roll or slightly less crusty baguette to serve it on.

Pork Belly Banh Mi

Try your hand at making this famous Vietnamese sandwich at home, complete with caramelized pork belly and quick pickled vegetables.

Peter Nguyen

90 Minutes
4 Servings
  • For the Quick Pickles:
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1 daikon, peeled and shredded
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • For the Pork Belly:
  • 2 pounds pork belly, cut into 1” cubes
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 fresh Thai chiles, thinly sliced (serrano chiles may be substituted but are milder in flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying eggs
  • 2 cups coconut soda (preferably Coco Rico)
  • ¼ cup fish sauce (preferably Red Boat)
  • 12 quail eggs or 3 chicken eggs, medium boiled, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • For the Assembly:
  • 4 long French-style rolls
  • Mayonnaise
  • 1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
  • Cilantro leaves and thinly sliced Fresno chiles, to serve

    For the quick pickled vegetables, julienne the carrot and daikon and set aside. Place the sugar, salt, water, and vinegar in a small Saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and let the salt and sugar dissolve.


    Place the vegetables in a clean mason jar and pour the hot liquid over them. Allow the pickles to sit undisturbed while you braise the pork belly. You can also do this a few days in advance and store them in the fridge for a stronger vinegar flavor.


    For the pork belly, fill your Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven with enough water to completely submerge the pork belly. You may need to put the pork in to test the water level, then remove it.


    Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and gently add the pork belly. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain the pork belly from the water, pat dry, set aside, and let cool.


    Wash out your Dutch Oven and set it over medium-low heat. Add the sugar with a couple of splashes of water and cook until the sugar dissolves and the resulting syrup becomes a dark amber color.


    Stop the caramelization process by adding the reserved pork belly. Cook, stirring to coat the pork, 1–2 minutes. Add onion, garlic, Thai chiles, and oil. Stir to combine and cook until until ingredients are starting to soften and lightly brown, 5–8 minutes.


    Add 2 cups water, coconut soda, and fish sauce. Cover and braise pork belly until tender, about 30 minutes.


    While the pork belly is braising, deep fry your quail eggs. Pour oil about halfway up the sides of a Medium Saucepan and heat over medium–high until small bubbles form around a wooden utensil. Carefully lower in your eggs and deep fry until the skin is rippled and a crispy golden brown. Drain and set aside.


    When the pork is about 5 minutes from being finished, add the eggs to the braising liquid so they can soak up the juice. Season with salt and pepper. Remove pork and eggs from the braising liquid and let cool slightly (meat should be fall-apart tender). If using chicken eggs, let cool and cut into quarters lengthwise.


    To assemble, split your bread lengthwise down the middle and toast lightly. Spread mayonnaise on both sides of the bread. Starting with the bottom of the roll, layer pork belly and eggs, then pickled vegetables, then top with cucumber, cilantro, and Fresno chiles, and finally a drizzle of braising liquid. Finish with more pepper, if desired, and close the sandwich.