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Friday, July 15, 2011

Bánh Mì Xíu Mại (Vietnamese Meatball Sandwich)

I always remember those days when I woke up every morning to the aroma of delicious foods everywhere from my kitchen to the corner across the street. As the youngest kid in the family, I was spoiled by everyone.  I wouldn't eat homemade breakfast unless they give me money.  In the morning,  I received money for breakfast.  In the afternoon, I was given money for snacks.  I was getting paid to eat.   How wonderful was that? 

Gone are those good 'ol days but I'm left with an indelible  memory of this dish of Bánh Mì Xíu Mại, sold by a lady who sat at the street corner every morning. She served it as a sandwich stuffed with meatballs, cucumber, herbs and a dash of fresh black pepper --- simple yet addicting.

I have tried to replicate this recipe of Bánh Mì Xíu Mại several times before but without much success.  Yesterday, I decided to give it another try and fortunately had better luck at capturing the essence of this dish.  The wonderful aroma and the tasty meaty flavor of Xíu Mại that I remembered was present.  My family enjoyed it.  My husband made fun of me for serving breakfast at dinner but after a bite, he nodded exuberantly in satisfaction.
RECIPE: Bánh Mì Xíu Mại


for Xíu Mại
about 1.3 pounds Ground Pork
3 Eggs
1 medium Jícama (củ sắn)
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 tablespoon Salt
2 Shallots, finely chopped 
6 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
3 green onions, white parts only, thinly sliced
for Meaball Sauce
3 riped Tomatoes
3 cups Water
2 tablespoons Annatto Oil (dầu hạt điều) - click here for Annatto Oil recipe
1/2 Onion, diced
2 tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Chicken Bouillon Powder
1/2 tablespoon Salt
2 tablespoons Tapioca Starch + 2 tablespoons Water, mixed well
2 Cucumbers, cut into thin strips
Cilantro, finely chopped
Ground Pepper
Red Chili Pepper, thinly sliced

Preparing  Jícama 

Bring a small pot of water to boil.  In the mean time, peel the skin of jicama, cut it into thin stripes. Place it in boiling water and cook for a few minutes until the water is boiling again.


Pour it into a colander.  Let it cool down a little bit, use your hands to squeeze out the liquid.  Chop cooked jicama into small pieces.  Make about 2 cups.  Set it aside .
Making Meatball

Bring a steamer with water to boil. Place a shadow plate or a aluminum foil inside a steamer tray.  Make sure to leave some space on a tray for the steam to enter. 

In a large bowl, combine ground pork, jicama, eggs, sugar, black pepper, salt, half of shallot, half of the green onion, and half of garlic (save the other half for later use).  Mix it well. Form the meat into balls.  Place meat balls into the tray and steam for about 10 minutes. 

Preparing Tomatoes 

Cut each tomato in half.  Squeeze out the seeds.  Finely chop the tomatoes.  Set it aside.
Making Xíu Mại Sauce

Heat up annatto oil in a deep pan.  Saute onion, the remaining garlic and shallot until fragrant.

Add tomatoes, water, juice released from meatballs, salt, sugar and fish sauce. Bring it to boil. Reduce the heat and let it cook for another 5 minutes.  Stir up the tapioca mixture then pour it into the sauce pan to thicken the sauce a little bit. Immediately stir it.  Add meatballs and simmer for about 5 minutes


Place a few meatballs into a shadow plate or a small bowl.  Top with cucumber and cilantro.  

Sprinkle a dash of fresh ground pepper.  Heat it up with a couple slices of red chili pepper.  Then serve it with a nice, warm toasted bread. 

Another way to enjoy Bánh Mì Xíu Mại is make it like a meatball sandwich.  Place meatballs, cucumber and cilantro inside the sandwich.  Sprinkle some fresh ground pepper.  Add a few slices of red pepper if you can tolerate the heat. 



  1. Hi! I just wanted to say that i love your blog! I found it while googling banh khoai mi and i literally went through your whole blog looking at delicious food pictures and recipes! Im korean but have a vietnamese bf and LOVE vietnamese food. Keep up with your wonderful blog!

  2. I made this recipe last night and it was so delicious. At first, while very good, I didn't think it tasted authentic. However, once I added some Maggi and diced Thai chili and had it with French baguette, it was awesome. Just perfect! Thanks so much for the recipe with detailed instructions and the beautiful photos. Love your blog!