When I was a teenager, there was a particular sandwich from a nondescript corner store that I fell in love with. It cost all of two dollars, and it was amazing—full to bursting with wild, bright, sweet, savory flavors. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that the cheap sandwich I bought in twos and threes to squirrel away in the fridge was a banh mi. There’s nothing traditional about putting salmon in banh mi, but I had summer in mind with this iteration. The Vietnamese baguette on which this is traditionally served uses both wheat and rice flours. A gluten-free baguette with rice flour would also work quite well. [Editor’s Note: We gotta say, a plain old traditional baguette works well in this sandwich, too, although a number of our recipe testers opted for softer sorts of breads for their salmon banh mi and were quite content.]–Kimberley Hasselbrink
LC Why Banh Mi? Note
Why make banh mi at home? Uh, why not? In the words of one of our recipe testers, “When I saw that this banh mi recipe called for salmon instead of the usual pork, chicken, or tofu, I was intrigued. Plus, I’ve never made banh mi.” For those unacquainted with the traditional Vietnamese sandwich that’s been trending oh so recently in New York City and elsewhere, it’s a crusty baguette crammed with pickled carrots, daikon radish, and cucumber along with pork belly or other meats–or, as in this recipe, swanky spiced salmon. We’re pretty certain you’ll not find this type of banh mi anywhere else.
Salmon Banh Mi
- Quick Glance
- 45 M
- 2 H
- Serves 4
- For the pickled vegetables
- 2 medium carrots
- 4 ounces (about a 4- to 6-inch chunk) daikon radish
- 1/3 English cucumber
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/4 cup natural cane sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- For the aioli
- 1/2 cup store bought or homemade mayonnaise
- 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
- Zest of 1/2 lemon or lime
- For the salmon
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade Sriracha sauce
- 1 teaspoon low-sodium tamari
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 16-ounce skinless wild salmon fillet (preferably thin), pin bones removed, salmon cut into 4 equal pieces
- For the sandwiches
- 1 French, Vietnamese, or gluten-free baguette, sliced crosswise into 4 equal pieces (5 to 6 inches each)
- 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup loosely packed Thai or regular basil leaves
- 1 small jalapeño, seeded and very thinly sliced (optional)
- Make the pickled vegetables
- 1. Using a julienne slicer or a sharp knife, cut the carrots into long matchsticks. With a mandoline or the same sharp knife, slice the radish as thinly as possible. Cut the cucumber diagonally into slices about 1/8 inch thick.
- 2. Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl, whisking vigorously until the sugar is dissolved or very nearly dissolved. Add the carrots, radish, and cucumber. Stir and toss to evenly coat the vegetables. Set aside at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes.
- 3. Drain the vegetables and place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. (You may have pickles left over after making the banh mi. They should keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.)
- Make the aioli
- 4. Combine the mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon or lime zest in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 day to allow the flavors to meld.
- Make the salmon
- 5. In a bowl, whisk together the boiling water and the brown sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the fish sauce, Sriracha, tamari, and garlic and stir to combine. Set aside about 3 tablespoons marinade to drizzle over the sandwiches later. Transfer the rest of the marinade to a shallow baking dish and let cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes. Place the salmon slices in the marinade, turning to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour, flipping the salmon halfway through.
- 6. Preheat the broiler. Remove the salmon from the marinade and place on a broiler pan or in a shallow metal baking dish. Broil 6 inches from the heat source until the salmon is golden brown on the surface, crisped at the edges, and cooked through to the desired doneness, roughly 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness.
- Assemble the banh mi
- 7. Split 1 baguette portion in half and hollow out some of the bread inside the crust. Brush both sides of the baguette’s interior with some aioli. Pile on a generous quantity of the pickled vegetables onto the bottom half of the baguette and top with 1 tablespoon cilantro and 1 tablespoon basil. Top with 1 piece salmon, breaking it into chunks, and top with some jalapeño slices, if using. Drizzle a little reserved marinade over everything and top with the other baguette half. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make a total of 4 sandwiches. Serve immediately.