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Banh Mi Bowls with Lemongrass Meatballs

Banh Mi Bowls with Lemongrass Meatballs

57 reviews / 4.7 average

Banh Mi Bowls, you ask? That’s right: quinoa or rice topped with quick pickled carrots, herbs, peanuts, and easy lemongrass pork meatballs all covered with spicy mayo. <– this is a thing.

Guys. I am so digging the bowl lifestyle!

You probably had no idea though because I hardly ever post bowls. (I always post bowls.)

Today’s banh mi bowl is inspired by a banh mi (traditional sandwich style), which I’ve only ever eaten once, which makes me a banh mi loser. I acknowledge this fully.

While my one and only banh mi experience was really good (good enough obviously to inspire a re-make-bowl-version), I found that all that white bread got in the way of all that’s good in the banh mi. Do you know what I mean or do you hate me for my blasphemy?

Just gimme the stuff that has tons of flavor, so the meatballs, the pickled vegetable salad, the herbs, the spicy mayo, the pate – except no pate on this homemade bowl version, srsly WHO DO YOU THINK I AM? – all of these ingredients are mostly what I’m wanting to eat when I think about a banh mi. It’s not that I’m against white rice or white bread – have you even read this blog? AS IF, guys. It’s more just that I’m hungry for food that will kick my tastebuds awake which means bowl-form, heavy on all herbs and sauces, is the way to go.

HOW TO MAKE OUR BANH MI Bowls (1 MIN):

Banh mi bowl with a drizzle of sauce.

Bowls in general are all about layers. So let’s start with the base layer to this banh mi bowl: you can choose to build your banh mi bowl on rice, quinoa, rice noodles, or I guess just lettuce if you want it to taste like heartbreak (but don’t do that). Some kind of basic carb situation would be my suggestion. I chose black/red quinoa – mostly because it’s all I happened to have on hand at the moment.

Exhibit A with the red quinoa stand-in: bowls are extremely versatile.

Next layer: on top of the quinoa base, we’re going for a pickled vegetable salad which sounds totally intimidating and really just means shredded or julienne cut vegetables soaked in rice vinegar and sugar for about an hour. That will do it, friends.

Close up of carrots.
Jar of organic coconut palm sugar.

I should mention that we are using coconut palm sugar in this recipe which is a big time bonus because it’s a delicious, unrefined brown sugar that doesn’t taste like coconut (that might get weird) – instead it has a deep caramel-lush-ous flavor that is just begging to be featured in Asian sauces of all sorts.

Also lovable: this sugar is actually made by the cooperative farmers in Indonesia who tap the nectar of the coconut palm trees, kind of like you might imagine a northwoodsian tapping a maple tree for syrup. The nectar gets heated over fire until it reduces down to granulated sugar, because OBVIOUSLY. It just had to be that cool.

Guys. I love Wholesome! I loved them before they were trendy and now – bonus – they’re trendy! so you can buy their organic, fair trade products at non-exotic locations, like, for example, Regular Person Target. THANK YOU LIFE.

Coconut palm sugar in a jar with a spoon.

Next layer: over the quinoa and pickled salad, let’s throw a handful of crushed peanuts and every possible herb that you could ever have in your fridge ever. I went crazytown with green onions, cilantro, basil, and mint. I did not regret it.

Meatballs.

Next layer: now we come to the crown jewel of this recipe, the thing that carries most of the flavor: THE MEATBALLS.

Can I just tell you this? My sister, who used to be a vegetarian, is working with us this summer. On the day I made these, she sampled one out of the fridge after I left and she specifically sent me a text to tell me how good they were. Former vegetarian, guys. Loving the meatballs. These are really really good meatballs. They are little crispy gems of pork, lemongrass (I just buy that paste in a tube from the produce section – my life has no time for locating and deconstructing fresh lemongrass sorry not sorry), sugar, and fish sauce which sounds totally scary but it’s so utterly life-changingly delicious. Please try.

Hands holding a banh mi bowl with a fork.

Final layer: spicy mayo // mic drop.

I am totes making this for dinner club this month. Bring on the lemongrass meatball banh mi bowl party.

Close up of a banh mi bowl with meatballs.
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Banh Mi Bowl in a bowl with fork.

Banh Mi Bowls with Lemongrass Meatballs


  • Author: Pinch of Yum
  • Prep Time: 1 hour (for pickling!)
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: enough meatballs / carrots for 4 bowls

Description

Banh Mi Bowls! A quick and easy meal featuring quinoa or rice topped with quick pickled carrots, herbs, peanuts, and easy lemongrass pork meatballs, all covered with spicy mayo.


Ingredients

Scale

Quick Pickled Carrots

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Wholesome! coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 68 carrots, cut into thin ribbons (I used a peeler to make those curls)

Meatballs

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 12 tablespoons lemongrass paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste (like Sriracha or Sambal Oelek)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Wholesome! coconut palm sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Bowls:

  • quinoa, rice, or noodles
  • herbs: cilantro, basil, mint, green onions
  • crushed peanuts or sesame seeds
  • spicy mayo (just mayo with a hit of sriracha)

Instructions

  1. Quick Pickled Carrots: Whisk the rice vinegar, palm sugar, sesame oil, and salt together. Soak the carrots in the mixture for one hour.
  2. Meatballs: Mix all ingredients. Roll into small meatballs with your hands (they might feel wet and heavy – pop them in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to get them to hold their shape a bit better). Heat a little bit of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the meatballs and fry until golden brown on the outside and fully cooked (not pink) inside.
  3. Bowls: Layer the carrots and meatballs over quinoa, rice, or noodles. Top with herbs, peanuts, sesame seeds, and/or spicy mayo. I would feel happy for you if you also added an avocado.
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Asian-Inspired

Keywords: banh mi recipe, bowl recipe, banh mi, pork recipe

Recipe Card powered by Tasty Recipes logo

Nutrition information is for 1 out of 4 bowls (meatballs, veggies, and rice using a total of 1 cup uncooked rice) and does not include spicy mayo sauce.

Thanks to Wholesome!® – makers of this Organic Coconut Palm Sugar – for partnering with us for this post! And for being a brand that we love and respect. 

And thanks to you, readers, for supporting the brands that do food right.


One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our collection of best healthy bowls. Check it out!

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Recipe rating

188 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo
    deb

    i used to love your site but all of your dishes are starting to look exactly the same! the same bowl, the same colors, the same type meals the same thing!! how about some sweets again or something just different?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Hi Deb! Great news – there are tons of food blogs in the world which cover a wide range of recipes! Here are some of my favorites to help you find some variety in your recipes: Sally’s Baking Addiction or Joy The Baker for baking recipes, Sprouted Kitchen or Cookie and Kate for vegetarian recipes, Gimme Some Oven or Damn Delicious for easy family recipes, My Name is Yeh or How Sweet Eats for unique and creative ingredient combinations. It’s a big world out there! Take care!

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Anna

        Perfect response. love you and your blog, Lindsay! Your recipes are always a hit at my house, keep them coming!

      2. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Sarah

        Bless you and your kind (& patient!) soul!! ❤️🙏

        All your recipes are the 💣!!

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Mette

    Looks yummy
    A bit of useless information: bahn mi means sandwich or simply a baguette in Vietnamese, so to talk about a bahn mi sandwich is, actually a bit odd. Just in case you were wondering have a nice weekend

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Ha-ha! Can’t believe I also knew this factoid! I work with a Vietnamese lady and once I’d finished butchering the pronunciation (!) she laughed and said – I have Bahn mi for lunch and showed me. Sure enough – it was a sub roll!! OK I’m totally biting the bullet and buying a bottle of fish sauce after your recommendation. Can’t wait to make this – looks fabulous. BTW I love your photos and look of the site!






  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Barbara your SLC Lyft Driver

    looks really good. it looks like there are jalapeno’s in the pictures. If so, what kind?

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Erikka

    I 100% need this in my life now. Totally my jam.

    Your dishes don’t look the same, and I think you’re rocking it out with all the awesome recipes you’ve been pushing this spring/summer.

    Keep up the great work Lindsay!






          1. Pinch of Yum Logo
            Lesley Bannister

            Just baked them. Works great! Convection 400 15 minutes (shake the pan at 8 mins)

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo
          Lesley Bannister

          Also made with turkey 3rd time I’ve made them. They’re not as good… but still good. Will try 1/2 and 1/2 next time

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Kim

        Just made / ate this and it was delicious. So many flavourtowns. I didn’t know there was a thing as lemongrass paste until I was ordering groceries for this recipe. And it was on sale. You’ve changed my life!






  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    jane

    Can’t rate this highly enough! Made it with a rice noodle base andickled some shredded cabbage too. Dressed it with a mix of hoi sin, sweet chilli and crunchy peanut butter – totally amazing. Thank you so much for posting this






  6. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Camille

    I love banh mi – without the bread, this is amazing! I then scroll down to leave a comment and see several more mouth watering bowls?! Thank you for sharing these recipes!

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Christina

    This looks fantastic! I love your recipes and have made many! I can’t wait to try this one!

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Look, for a moment there I was a little judgemental because there was no white bread roll or pate involved – Bahn Mi blasphemy at its highest – but having looked at the photos, read about all those delicious layers I have completely forgotten about bread and pate and just want a huge bowl of this all to myself! Looks amazing!

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Ben

    I’ve made a bunch of your recipes in the past, but this one was such a hit with my girlfriend that I felt inclined to offer my gratitude 🙂 I obviously enjoyed it immensely as well. The meatballs were superrrr super tasty, combined with the tangy carrots and the balance of the quinoa really made it a winner. An FYI to anyone else out there making this bowl, I couldn’t find Coconut Palm Sugar or Lemongrass paste…I used brown sugar and lemon zest instead…I think they filled in nicely. Thanks again, Lindsay! Keep killin’ it.






  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    sarah

    I love these meatballs! I used ground chicken breast and doubled the recipe because I have faith in your recipes. (Going to freeze some for a rainy day.) This lucky girl had some leftover coleslaw from your fish tacos, so threw that in the bowl as well. Thanks for another great recipe.






  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Sophie

    Thanks from Perth, Australia! I made this for the first time last night to take to work for lunch. I just wolfed it down and I’m feeling pretty smug that I have more in the fridge for tomorrow! 🙂

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Ashley

    This was an AMAZING dinner! We served it over quinoa, although I’ll be excited to try rice next time. The meatballs were so delicious, and pickled carrots are one of my favorite things ever. Just can’t go wrong with this one! We will definitely be having it again. 🙂