Recipe: Load Steak Bahn Mi with contrasting textures

Evidence of French colonial rule is scattered throughout Vietnam, particularly in the kitchen. Coffee, butter, roast, and beef are all French heritage, though the coffee is loaded with sweetened condensed milk and the beef is stir-fried with soy and fish sauces.

Baguettes are also ubiquitous, although they’re crunchier and lighter than the breads found in France — and rather filled with a typically Vietnamese riot of contrasting flavors. The result is the legendary bahn mi sandwich that combines savory, sweet, tangy and plant-based flavors and a mix of crunchy and chewy textures.

For our weekday version from our Milk Street Tuesday Nights book, which limits recipes to about 45 minutes or less, we streamline the ingredient list and use quick-cooked skirt steak. Quickly pickled shredded carrots and fresh coriander give it a signature brightness, and a tangy spread of hot sriracha sauce and mayonnaise adds fiery creaminess.

The best type of bread to use here is a supermarket baguette or French bun with a light, airy crumb and a thin, brittle crust, not chewy, rustic bread. Add a few thin slices of jalapeño chiles to each sandwich for extra spiciness. Also try it with a smear of pork or chicken pie.


Vietnamese skirt steak sandwiches

Start to finish: 50 minutes

Servings: 4

¾ cup white vinegar

¼ cup white sugar

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded (1 cup)

1-pound skirt steak, sliced ​​crosswise into 3- to 4-inch pieces, patted dry

⅓ cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons Sriracha

Four 7- to 8-inch french buns (see note), parted horizontally

½ English cucumber, sliced ​​into ⅛ inch thick

1 cup coriander sprigs

In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in the carrots and set aside. Heat the broiler to high with a grate 4 inches from the element and another in the center. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Season the steak on both sides with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Place in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and sriracha; put aside. Scoop out some of the inner crumb of each piece of bread; The remaining crust and crumbs should be about ¾ inch thick. Put aside.

Grill steak until center of thickest cut reaches 125°F for Medium Rare or 130°F for Medium, 3 to 5 minutes, turning once halfway through. Turn off the grill, place the steak on a plate and tent with foil. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the bread halves, cut side down, on the now empty baking sheet; It’s okay if they overlap a little. Place in the oven on the middle rack and heat until the bread is warm, about 5 minutes. Strain carrots.

Spread the cut surfaces of the bread evenly with the mayonnaise. Thinly slice the steak diagonally against the grain. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Divide the steak and any accumulated juice evenly among the bottom halves of the bread, then top with the carrots, cucumber slices, and cilantro. Top with the rest of the bread.

EDITORS’ NOTE: For more recipes, see Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at

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