Forget the Bread: This Deconstructed Banh Mi is Filled with Fresh Flavors and Low in Carbs

After pho, perhaps the best-known Vietnamese dish among Western populations, is the flavorful banh mi. In this rendition, we pull apart the sandwich's components and enjoy it bowl-style.

Photo: Ronald Tsang

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Crunchy yet airy and soft, the banh mi is one seriously delicious sandwich. It’s kind of like the Vietnamese version of a sub. The banh mi is typically made with savory ingredients that are staples in Vietnamese cuisine, like pork sausage, cilantro, cucumber and pickled carrots or daikon. And after the French introduced Vietnam to the baguette, it quickly became a staple sandwich — and by the 1950s, the banh mi was a popular street food in Saigon. Now, it’s a hit almost everywhere. The crisp veggies and bright, tart flavors of their pickled composition make this sandwich a delicious meal no matter how it’s served – and we’ve created a version that puts the baguette aside in our Deconstructed Banh Mi.

In our take on a pulled-apart banh mi, we’re swapping out the baguette for a bed of leafy greens (romaine hearts, to be exact). But we’ve kept all of the key ingredients, sprinkling them along the romaine hearts: pickled carrots and daikon radishes, ground pork (or turkey, if you prefer), fresh ginger and cilantro, plus sweet hone and chile sauce. And we’ve created a sauce you can drizzle over top of these ingredients to add a little heat and a little sweetness, rounding out all of the flavors. Each bite will taste like the banh mi you know and love, just with more crunch and some extra veg.

Plus, it’s totally customizable and versatile. Missing the baguette? You can always turn the ingredients back into the traditional sandwich, or serve the salad with a slice or two of toasted baguette on the side.

Deconstructed Banh Mi

Prep Time
40 min
50 min



  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1 daikon radish, shredded
  • 2⁄3 cup rice vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1⁄2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 1⁄2 tsp sea salt


  • 1 lb ground pork or turkey
  • 2 tsp coconut aminos
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp drained and minced jarred lemongrass, optional
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1⁄2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil


  • 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise (preferably avocado or olive oil)
  • 5 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 2 tsp sweet chile sauce or honey
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 romaine heart, shredded (about 5 cups)
  • 2 mini cucumbers, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped roasted, salted peanuts, optional


  1. Prepare pickles: To a heat-proof jar, add carrots and daikon. In a saucepan, combine vinegar, water, honey and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium and cook, stirring, until salt dissolves. Pour over vegetables. Let stand at room temperature until cool, about 30 minutes. Use pickles right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  2. Prepare burgers: In a large bowl, combine pork, coconut aminos, ginger, lemongrass (if using), fish sauce and salt. Using your hands, mix gently to combine. Form into 4 patties.
  3. In a large cast iron skillet on medium-high, heat oil. Add patties and cook 4 to 5 minutes per side, until cooked through.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, sriracha, chile sauce and garlic powder.
  5. Divide lettuce among bowls. Top each with about 1⁄4 cup pickled veggies. Divide patties among bowls, drizzle with mayo mixture and sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts (if using).

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size ¼ of recipe
  • Calories 521
  • Carbohydrate Content 15 g
  • Cholesterol Content 106 mg
  • Fat Content 41 g
  • Fiber Content 3 g
  • Protein Content 23 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 9.5 g
  • Sodium Content 900 mg
  • Sugar Content 9 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 25 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 5 g