Lemongrass Beef Banh Mi: Ultimate Recipe & Serving Tips

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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Imagine biting into a lemongrass beef banh mi, where fragrant, zesty flavors meld with the crunch of fresh vegetables, all encased in a perfectly toasted baguette. This Vietnamese classic has captivated food lovers around the world, transforming from a simple street food in Saigon to a global sandwich sensation. The star of this dish is the lemongrass beef, marinated to perfection, bringing a burst of citrusy yet earthy tones that define the heart of this beloved sandwich.


To recreate the delightful flavors of a lemongrass beef banh mi, you’ll need a combination of fresh ingredients and vibrant spices. Here’s what you’ll need to gather:

For the Lemongrass Beef

  • 1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, outer layers removed, finely minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the Pickled Vegetables

  • 1 medium carrot, julienned
  • 1 daikon radish, julienned
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 4 French baguettes or Vietnamese bread rolls, split lengthwise
  • Mayonnaise, as needed
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Thinly sliced cucumber
  • Jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Extra sauce from the lemongrass beef marination (optional)

Equipment Needed

To successfully prepare and assemble your lemongrass beef banh mi, you will need the following kitchen tools:

  • Sharp Knife: Essential for finely chopping the lemongrass and garlic and thinly slicing the beef.
  • Cutting Board: Opt for a large one to handle all the prep work efficiently.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Necessary for accurate measurement of ingredients to ensure the flavors are perfectly balanced.
  • Mixing Bowls: You’ll need several sizes for marinating the beef and mixing the pickled vegetables.
  • Grill Pan or Skillet: A grill pan is preferred to achieve the charred texture on the beef, but a skillet works if a grill pan is unavailable.
  • Baking Sheet: Needed for toasting the baguettes to the perfect level of crispiness.
  • Small Saucepan: For preparing the pickling solution for the vegetables.
  • Tongs and Spatula: Helpful for turning the beef on the grill or skillet and assembling the sandwich.
  • Vegetable Peeler: For peeling and cutting the cucumber into ribbons if desired.
  • Jar or Container with Lid: To mix and store the pickled vegetables.

Make sure each of these items is ready and accessible before you begin cooking to streamline the process and enhance your cooking experience.

Prep Time

To embark on creating your lemongrass beef Banh Mi, beginning with proper preparation is crucial. Set aside about 30 minutes to prepare your ingredients before cooking.

Preparing the Beef

  1. Marinate the Beef: Start by slicing your flank steak into thin strips. It’s easier if the meat is slightly frozen. In a bowl, mix two stalks of finely chopped lemongrass, two minced garlic cloves, one tablespoon of soy sauce, one tablespoon of fish sauce, two teaspoons of sugar, and a half teaspoon of black pepper. Add the beef strips to this marinade, ensuring they are well-coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, though several hours or overnight is ideal for deeper flavor penetration.

Pickling the Vegetables

  1. Create the Pickling Solution: In a small saucepan, combine one cup of water, half a cup of white vinegar, two tablespoons of sugar, and one teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar and salt are fully dissolved.
  2. Prepare the Vegetables: While the pickling solution is heating, thinly slice one carrot and one daikon radish using a vegetable peeler or a mandoline for uniformity. Place the sliced vegetables in a clean jar or bowl.
  3. Pickle the Vegetables: Pour the hot pickling solution over the carrots and daikon in the jar, ensuring the vegetables are submerged. Let this sit at room temperature until cooled, then cover and refrigerate. This can be done ahead of time as the flavors develop more over a few hours.
  1. Prepare Cucumbers and Jalapeños: Thinly slice one cucumber and one to two jalapeños (depending on your heat preference). These fresh toppings do not require advance preparation and can be sliced just before assembling your Banh Mi to maintain their crispness.
  2. Wash and Dry Cilantro: Take a bunch of cilantro, thoroughly wash it under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Leave the leaves whole for a burst of freshness in each bite or chop them if preferred.
  3. Slice the Baguettes: If not pre-sliced, cut your baguette into 6-inch lengths, then slice each piece lengthwise. For an extra touch, lightly toast the cut sides in a pan or oven until just crisp. This adds a delightful texture to your Banh Mi.

By adequately prepping all components, the final assembly of your lemongrass beef Banh Mi will be swift and satisfying.

Cooking Instructions

Now that your ingredients are prepped and your kitchen tools are laid out, let’s start transforming these vibrant ingredients into your scrumptious lemongrass beef banh mi.

Cooking the Beef

  1. Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. While your pan heats, remove the beef from the marinade, letting any excess drip off. Discard the remaining marinade.
  2. Place the beef in the hot pan. Sear each piece for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until you achieve a nice caramelization and the beef reaches your desired level of doneness.
  3. Once cooked, transfer the beef to a cutting board and let it rest for a few minutes. This pause allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, enhancing the flavor and tenderness.
  4. Slice the beef against the grain into thin strips, preparing it to layer beautifully on your baguette.
  1. Preheat your oven’s broiler to high and arrange the rack so it’s about 6 inches from the heat source.
  2. Slice your baguettes lengthwise, keeping one edge intact so they open like a book. This allows for easier filling.
  3. Place the baguettes on a baking sheet, cut side up, and brush lightly with a bit of oil or a thin layer of mayonnaise for extra flavor.
  4. Toast the baguettes under the broiler for about 2 minutes, or until they’re just golden and crispy. Keep a close eye on them to prevent burning.

Assembly Instructions

Now that you’ve got your crispy toasted baguettes and savory seared beef ready, it’s time to assemble your lemongrass beef banh mi. Follow these steps carefully to layer the flavors and textures for the perfect sandwich.

  1. Spread the Sauces: Start by spreading a generous layer of mayonnaise on each half of your toasted baguette. If you like a bit of spice, drizzle some sriracha or your favorite chili sauce over the mayo.
  2. Add the Pickled Vegetables: Take a handful of your pickled carrots and daikon radishes and distribute them evenly on the bottom half of the baguette. The pickled vegetables add a crunch and a tangy contrast to the richness of the beef.
  3. Layer the Beef: Place the thinly sliced lemongrass beef on top of the pickled vegetables. Make sure the beef is evenly distributed so every bite contains its juicy, flavorful goodness.
  4. Top with Herbs and Garnishes: Finish off by sprinkling a generous amount of fresh cilantro leaves and thinly sliced cucumbers. These fresh elements bring brightness and a crisp texture that complements the beef perfectly.
  5. Close the Sandwich: Carefully place the top half of the baguette on your layered ingredients. Press down gently to ensure the sandwich holds together nicely.

Once your sandwich is assembled, you’re all set to enjoy a vibrant and delicious lemongrass beef banh mi that captures the essence of Vietnamese cuisine right in your kitchen.

Serving Suggestions

After crafting your lemongrass beef banh mi, presenting it in a way that complements its rich flavors and vibrant aesthetics is key. Here’s how to best serve and enjoy this delightful sandwich.

Pair With a Beverage

A refreshing beverage can enhance the flavors of your banh mi. Opt for a crisp, chilled cucumber lemonade or a glass of lightly sweetened iced tea. These drinks help balance the rich, savory flavors of the beef and the tanginess of the pickled vegetables.

Side Dishes

To round out your meal, consider serving your banh mi with one of these appetizing sides:

  • Crispy Spring Rolls: Offer a side of homemade or store-bought spring rolls for a delightful crunch. Dip them in a tangy fish sauce or a sweet chili sauce for an extra zip.
  • Vietnamese Coleslaw: Mix shredded cabbage and carrots with a light dressing of fish sauce, lime juice, and a hint of sugar. This slaw adds a fresh, crunchy contrast to the soft baguette and tender beef.

Presentation Tips

Serve your banh mi on a wooden cutting board for a rustic look, or line a serving tray with banana leaves for a touch of traditional Vietnamese flair. Slice the sandwiches in half diagonally and arrange them so the colorful insides are visible, making them irresistible.

By pairing your lemongrass beef banh mi with the right sides and beverages, you turn a simple sandwich into a memorable meal. Enjoy the harmony of flavors and the pleasure of sharing this delightful dish with friends and family.


Now that you’ve got the scoop on crafting a delightful lemongrass beef banh mi let’s get you started on your culinary adventure. Remember it’s not just about making a sandwich—it’s about creating an experience. Whether you’re enjoying it on a sunny porch with a refreshing cucumber lemonade or sharing it with friends over laughter and crispy spring rolls your lemongrass beef banh mi is sure to impress. So why wait? Gather your ingredients and bring a taste of Vietnam right into your kitchen today!

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