turkey banh mi

turkey banh mi

It is so satisfying when something just works. So much of my life has been shaped by guesses motivated by a naive optimism, that it's a wonder I've survived this long. Chance isn't usually a gentle lover and I've certainly felt the prick of her bitter sting. I have walked through some difficult things, some of which were a product of my lack of careful consideration. When I was single, the repercussions of living life this way only meant that I may have to deal with the consequences, however severe. Now, I have my husband and son to consider. Suddenly, I am aware of what it is on the line when I make decisions without first considering how they may affect our family, even in small ways. Slowly but surely I am learning how waiting and careful contemplation can be a small sacrifice in order to avoid regretting a hasty decision. 

turkey banh mi ingredients

A lot is on our minds this week as we are working through some big decisions that will greatly alter our family dynamic. Many nights have been spent listing pros and cons with few concrete winners, but we deliberate none the less. I'm taking great comfort in knowing that the Lord is present in all of this and so thankful that we have these decisions to make. I know there are countless families struggling with far greater decisions than we are facing. If that is you, I hope you can find a window of peace today and breath freely, even if just for a moment. 

turkey banh mi patties

With the rest of the week feeling so heavy, I needed a mental break to breathe and focus on something that wouldn't require me to make a pros/cons list. I looked in my kitchen journal (oh, that isn't a thing?) and found some notes about asian meatballs that I had scribbled down after making a batch that were a total fail. The idea was pretty basic, but it sounded like they could be dressed up in a squishy roll along with the makings of a pretty bomb banh mi. Living in the Bay Area, we have an incredible array of ethnic food available to us, including Vietnamese sandwiches. We love to sneak them into the movie theater or take them along on trips to the beach. They're so complex, I never considered making them, expecting about a hundred steps to pull out that kind of flavor. Thankfully, my asian (TURKEY!) meatball experiment turned out to be the perfect way to make this a quick and equally tasty sandwich. 

This recipe is one of those things that just worked. It was nice to just let loose, greet my old ways and wing this one, hoping that my understanding of these flavors would guide me to something delicious without worrying about any life altering consequences. There were a couple points where I thought these might end in another flop, but I was wrong. This sandwich is quite possibly the best thing I've ever made. It's simple, but tastes like it was incredibly complicated. Yes, there are a few steps, but none are difficult and once you get this up to your face you'll want to run right back to the kitchen to make another. 

turkey banh mi 

makes 6 four inch sandwiches


For pickled vegetables: 

  • 2 large carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 1 daikon radish, peeled and julienned
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vinegar

For the patties

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (93% lean)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • 4 scallions, white part only, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons sliced basil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon rice bran oil (or other high heat oil)

For sandwiches: 

  • 6 four inch french rolls
  • 12 cilantro sprigs
  • 1 jalepeno, sliced thinly
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon siracha


Pickle the vegetables

  1. Combine the sugar, salt and vinegar in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the carrot and daikon and let it sit at least 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate overnight. 

Make the patties

  1. Combine all of the ingredients for the turkey patties in a large bowl until just mixed. Try not to over mix it or they might be tough. The mixture will look pretty wet, that's okay. They're gonna be great. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then form 12 patties, transferring them to a plate. 
  2. Heat the rice bran oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the patties, being sure to not over crowd the pan. Work in batches if you need to. Cook on one side until well browned, about 6 minutes. Flip and cook until browned and just cooked through about 7 minutes more. Check for doneness and then transfer to a clean plate. 

Assemble the sandwiches

  1. Cut the french rolls length wise, not cutting all the way through the back. Open them up and toast them in the same pan you cooked the patties (no need to clean it) until browned and crisp. Alternatively, you can place them all cut side up on a baking sheet and broil them, being careful not to burn them. That would be a bummer. 
  2. Mix the mayonnaise and siracha together and spread it on the toasted rolls. Place two patties on each roll and top with a few slices of jalepeno, a couple sprigs of cilantro and a handful of pickled vegetables. Close it up and dig in my friend.