How to Make a Banh Mi Sandwich

The Heavy Table’s James Norton visits with The Perennial Plate‘s Daniel Klein to make a Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich. Edited by Daniel Klein, filmed by Cully Gallagher, and music by Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles: “Special Party Time for Everybody.”

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Banh Mi

Duck (or chicken) liver pate

8 duck (12 chicken) livers
2 c milk
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 small onion
1 stick of butter (4 oz) or more depending on how livery you want your pate
3 sprigs of rosemary
1 c cream
½ c white wine
salt to taste

  1. Soak the duck livers for several hours or overnight in the milk. Remove from milk and dry thoroughly. Salt heavily.
  2. Heat grapeseed oil in a saute pan until just before smoking. Brown the duck livers: about a minute on each side. Add half a stick of butter and your sprigs of rosemary to the pan; baste the livers for a minute with the butter. Set the livers aside to cool.
  3. In the same pan, salt and saute the onion (diced); don’t be afraid to let it caramelize as you want the sweetness to come through. After there is some nice color on the onion, add the cream and wine to the pan. Let the mixture reduce for 10 minutes on medium heat, or until it has reduced by more than half.
  4. Put the livers in a blender with the cream / onion mixture while it is still warm (but not hot). Blend the ingredients very well, and add the other half stick of butter while blending.
  5. When you think you have blended your mixture enough, do it some more. This recipe can only benefit from abundant smoothness. Salt to taste.
  6. If the liver flavor is too strong for you, add more butter. Adding cold butter can also help to emulsify if your mixture looks broken. If you add a lot more butter, it’s a good idea to add a bit of water or cream as you don’t want the pate to be too stiff.

Sriracha and duck egg aioli

1 duck yolk
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp mustard
2 tbsp sriracha (more to taste)
1 ½ c canola or grapeseed oil

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor. Blend ingredients.
  2. While blending, slowly add the oil in a thin stream. Keep adding oil until the sound of the spinning changes and the ingredients have emulsified. Salt to taste.
  3. If the aioli is too thick, add a bit of water. Also, don’t be afraid to add a little more vinegar, mustard, or sriracha to adjust to your liking.

Duck neck confit

4 duck necks
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar
1 clove garlic
1 tsp black peppercorns
¼ clove star anise
3 sprigs of thyme
duck fat to cover necks (1 c)

  1. Blend the dry ingredients together to make a cure. Toss the duck necks in the cure, cover, and let sit overnight.
  2. Wash all of the salt off of the duck necks. Dry completely.
  3. Put the necks in a small pan and cover with duck fat. Cook at 180°F for 4-8 hours or until meat falls off the bone.

Pickled carrots and radish

3 small or one large carrot (julienned)
¼ daikon or one black spanish radish, depending on the season (julienned)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 ½ c water
1 ½ c rice wine vinegar
½ c honey

  1. Sprinkle the salt and sugar on the julienned carrots and radish. After five minutes, pour off the water. Bringing out the water helps to maintain the crisp texture of the vegetables.
  2. Heat up the water, rice vinegar, and honey.
  3. Pour the warm liquid over the vegetables and store in the fridge. Use liberally when cold.

To assemble bahn mi

fish sauce

  1. Spread generous portions of the pate and aioli on either side of a crunchy white baguette (go to an Asian supermarket to find the appropriate bread).
  2. Add a couple heaping spoons of the duck confit or any other meat or vegetable. Some good alternatives are mushroom, chicken breast, sweet potato, barbeque pork, and pork terrine.
  3. Put a generous portion of the pickles on the sandwich, making sure there is a lot of pickle in each bite.
  4. Add twice as much cilantro as you would normally think to add; don’t cut the sprigs, just throw them on.
  5. For our sandwich we added sorrel, chives, and spring onions from the garden, but use what you have. If you like it hot, add thinly sliced green chilis.
  6. Finally, make a mixture of 2 parts fish sauce and 1 part pickling liquid. Pour two spoonfuls over the cilantro.
  7. Eat immediately.

Created in collaboration with The Perennial Plate.


  1. geoff

    given just the amount of labor involved, it’s amazing that you can get banh mi for under $3 on Nicollet or University Ave.

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