This vibrant, zesty Instant-Pot Healthy Banh Mi Sandwich is made EASY. And while it’s already pretty inherently healthy, this one uses lean pork tenderloin, and a low to non-fat spicy cilantro garlic mayo, so it’s about as light as you can get!
I LOVE a Banh Mi sandwich. My mouth is watering just looking at this! If you’ve never had one, it’s time. it’s a Vietnamese food usually consisting of thin strips of barbecued or marinated pork, lots of cilantro, and pickled veggies, traditionally carrots and daikon radishes on a crusty but chewy French baguette. There’s usually probably lots of steps and time and marinating and fish sauce. But not this one. Ha.
And while it may look intimidating if it’s not your staple flavor profile, obviously I took every short cut possible so while this may not win a prize for authenticity… it’s so DOABLE and SO GOOD and will add just the right amount of variety to your dinners. Especially if you prefer to work with one or two batches of protein all week like I do.
I started by quick-pickling some veggies ahead of time. Easiest thing ever! You just throw them in a jar with vinegar, water, salt, and sugar and let em sit. You only need an hour so even if you decide to go for it in the afternoon, you’re good. Just thinly slice your carrots and radishes using a mandolin if you have one.. but by hand is fine too! I went with ribbons because I was trying to be all fay-ancy. But matchsticks are great too… I just love my pickled vegetables thin.
Besides that… I just used my trusty, STAPLE carnitas recipe that we make at least a couple of times a month. Heated it up in a pan with a little added garlic salt to liven it up a bit- it’s perfect! (make sure to remove from heat as soon as it’s warm.. you don’t want to recook it!) Throw it on a lightly toasted baguette or sandwich roll, topped with the spicy cilantro garlic mayo, a generous amount of punchy pickled veggies, a bunch of fresh cilantro leaves, cucumber slices and jalapenos and you’ll feel like a CHEF. Or like you’re at a Vietnamese restaurant. Or at least a trendy food truck in Boston. Ok or AT LEAST proud that you stepped outside your carnitas taco box street food. (Just me?)
Dip in soy sauce if you feel so inclined. You can also find this recipe and others like it in my cookbook!
Instant-Pot Healthy Banh Mi Sandwich
For the Sandwich
- 100 g instant-pot or slow cooker carnitas or other shredded pork leftover is great!- reheated in a pan with a little added garlic salt.
- 70 g bolillo roll or other favorite sandwich roll baguette, or bun
- 30 g pickled carrots recipe below*
- 20 g pickled radishes recipe below*
- 60 g thinly sliced cucumbers I used a mandolin
- A good pinch of cilantro
- Sliced jalapeno
- 2 tbs spicy cilantro garlic mayo recipe below*
For the Mayo
- 1/4 cup light mayo (mine is only 1g/fat per serving Best Foods with a green label.. your macros will be different with another but close.. you can also use greek yogurt or light/fat free sour cream.
- 1 cube frozen garlic dorot .. or one clove
- 1 cube frozen cilantro dorot .. or 1-2 tbs minced
- 2 tsp sriracha
For the quick-pickled veggies
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1.5 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbs sugar
- 2 carrots 100 g peeled, then shaved or grated. I sliced mine on a mandolin because it’s pretty- ha! But I’ll be honest it was awkward… a veggie peeler or just pre-grated would taste the same!
- 3-5 radishes 100 g sliced thin on a mandolin or by hand is fine.
For the quick-pickled veggies:
- Combine water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Stir together to make sure sugar has dissolved. Add sliced carrots and radishes and let sit for about an hour and up to a week. Drain to use.
For the Spicy Cilantro Garlic Mayo
- You can microwave the frozen cubes for just 8 seconds or so to soften, or just let them sit in the mayo while you do other things until thawed. Stir all mayo ingredients together. DONE!
For the Banh Mi Sandwich
- Just like I do for my every day turkey sandwich, I like to cut the bottom of the roll about as thin as possible and hollow out the top to cut carbs.*
- Spray insides of bread with light mist of olive oil spray and toast in a hot skillet.. or if making several, spray and broil till toasty.
- Spread both sides with spicy mayo (tricky when it’s concave but you got this.)
- Top with re-heated (from the pan) carnitas, pickled veggies, fresh cucumbers, jalapenos, and a handful of cilantro! If you’re not a cilantro-lover I guess you can do that thing where you just put a few leaves.
- Top with other half, slice and ENJOY!
- For logging in MFP just search “bolillo g” or whatever bread you use to find a good option in grams instead of trying to log “1 roll”.
- I used to stress about how to track the sugar in the veggies, but after weighing the liquid before and after the pickling, I realized that so little of it is soaked up, I’ve decided I’m considering it negligible! But if you’re worried, feel free to log a little sugar, or remove it from the recipe altogether. I’ve had readers tell me that it turns out just fine but haven’t tried myself. I also noticed the weight of the veggies doesn’t change much from raw… so I just logged fresh carrots and fresh radishes in my diary this time.
- The mayo is another one I decided to simplify on. The additions are so negligible, the final numbers aren’t much different than whatever base you use. So just log your mayo/yogurt/sour cream. Or feel free to create a recipe if you want it to be more precise!