Tue Mar 19, 2013
I was late to jump on the banh mi bandwagon, so much so that the all out craze they had going so many years ago was breathing its last breath when I finally joined. Still, my first taste of one of these Vietnamese sandwiches was a revelation—the contrast between the sweet and salty meat, pickled diakons and carrots, fresh cilantro, and airy, crusty bread was nothing short of spectacular. Whether in or out of food fashion, I still think these are royalty among sandwiches, deserving continued prominence, which is why I'm bringing you this grilled steak banh mi today.
I have a beef with steak sandwiches—all too often they're too chewy and difficult to bite off, making what would be a good steak seem bad. So when considering a path for this banh mi, I wanted to get a cut that balances flavor, tenderness, and cost to get the best beef for the application. I found a good choice in the sirloin tip, which isn't actually part of the sirloin, but really the top part of the round, next to the sirloin area. While a little tough when used a steak, cut into thin slices, sirloin tip is perfect for things like stir-fry or sandwiches.
The sirloin tip has a relative mild beefiness, which was fine here because I wanted the meat to pick up a lot of its flavor from marinated. A strong mixture of fish sauce, sugar, shallot, garlic, and black pepper made up this ubiquitous Vietnamese marinade that has amazing power to inject anything it touches with a complex sweet and salty flavor.
In just an hours time, the beef picks up a lot of what the marinade has to offer. I like to push mine more though—letting the steak marinate overnight—to really flavor the meat throughout.
On the grill these little pieces of steak cooked up fast. To avoid over cooking, which leads to dry and chewy steak, I used the fire when it was at its hottest point. This let me get a nice sear very fast, keeping a still rosy center by the time a nicely brown crust formed on the outside.
Those browned beauties of sirloin tip were then piled onto baguettes and topped with cilantro, pickled carrots and daikons, and a spread of Sriracha mayo. This was representative of all the power of a banh mi—with just a few ingredients, the mixture of flavors and textures was immense. Slightly pungent, slightly sweet beef mingled with tart and crunchy pickles, fresh cilantro, creamy and spicy mayo, and crusty bread. The experience was like taking a trip deep into the depths of flavor country, and I, for one, never want to leave.
Vietnamese Steak Banh Mi
- Prep Time:
- 20 Minutes
- Inactive Time:
- 1 Hour
- Cook Time:
- 5 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 1 Hour 25 Minutes
- 6 servings
- 1/3 cup fish sauce
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 pounds beef sirloin tip, sliced into 1/8-inch strips
- 6 6 to 8-inch baguettes, sliced in half
- Sriracha mayonnaise (3 tablespoons mayonnaise mixed with 1 tablespoon Sriracha)
- Pickled carrots and daikons
- 1 bunch of cilantro, very coarsely chopped
- In a small bowl whisk together fish sauce, sugar, shallot, garlic, and black pepper. Place beef slices in a large resealable plastic bag, pour in marinade, seal bag and toss to coat well. Place in refrigerator and marinate at least 1 hour, or up to 24.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill beef over high heat until browned on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Place baguette slices on grill, cut side down, and toast until browned, about 1 minute. Remove from grill and evenly divide beef on bottom slices of bread; top with pickled carrots, daikons, and cilantro. Spread sriracha mayo on top slices of bread, arrange on top of assemble sandwich and serve.