Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
12 May

Banh Mi Salad

Banh Mi is an increasingly popular Vietnamese sandwich with a sweet, savory, tangy and sometimes spicy blend of meat, raw vegetables and herbs. Freed from the confines of a baguette, the bold flavors and contrasting textures of Banh Mi also make an incredible salad. In this simple Primal version, peppery seared pork is tossed with a crunchy cabbage and carrot slaw and topped with cilantro, mint and a tangy mayonnaise dressing.

Pork is the type of meat that most typically fills Banh Mi sandwiches. This Primal version eliminates the sugar often used to sweeten the pork and instead coats the meat in a pepper-garlic marinade. Although the colorful veggies stuffed into Banh Mi sandwiches are usually pickled in sugary brine, it’s not necessary for this salad. Just throw the raw cabbage, carrots and cucumber into a bowl (plus radish and sliced jalapeno, if you’re inclined) and top with a tangy dressing. The refreshing blend of flavors in this salad taste especially good when the weather is warm; in the summer, consider grilling the meat instead of pan-frying.

A salad this good makes a person wonder what other sandwiches would taste better in a bowl. How about a BLT, or Turkey Club or Pulled Pork…skip the bread and make salad instead!

Servings: 4


  • 1 pound of pork loin, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (found in the Asian section of grocery stores)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 cups grated cabbage
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 to 2 cups thinly sliced or chopped cucumber
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Handful of mint and cilantro leaves, torn into pieces
  • Optional: jalapeno and radish, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar (fresh lime juice can be substituted)


Combine pork, garlic, fish sauce and black pepper in a sealed bag or container. Marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, or longer if possible.

In a small bowl, whisk together mayo and vinegar. If you like a lot of dressing on your salad, double the amounts used. Set aside.

Combine all the vegetables and herbs in a large bowl.

Heat several tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork, searing for 3-4 minutes on each side.

Remove from the pan. Slice the medallions of pork into thin strips and mix with the salad ingredients.

Pour dressing on top. Toss well and serve.

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Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Wow, this looks delicious!

    Shannon wrote on May 12th, 2012
  2. IMO, I’m pretty sure most sandwiches would taste better in a bowl :) This looks amazing. I might have to pull this together for a mother’s day brunch tomorrow!

    Stephanie wrote on May 12th, 2012
  3. YUMM-O!

    yoolieboolie wrote on May 12th, 2012
  4. Asian-inspired dishes have fallen by the wayside since eating primal – often brown sugar and dubious umami, yeast-extracty condiments feature heavily. But nice to see a ‘clean’ variation, and one I swear I can sniff, hear sizzling and taste through the page! Tangy piggy salad, scrum. (Perhaps Subway could ditch the fluffy buns and make a range of deconstructed offerings? A rippling Jared Fogle in a loincloth, snapping stale bread sticks over his thighs and bellowing – is the new paleo ambassador).

    Catie wrote on May 12th, 2012
    • Subway *USED* to make any sammich as a salad for no extra cost.

      Now, they charge a lot more. F’ers.

      That was the healthier option – salad, and oil/vinegar is almost paleo.

      The latest “healthy” has added lots of sugar and *crap*.

      Rachel in Seattle 'burb wrote on May 30th, 2012
    • “Jared Fogle in a loincloth, snapping stale bread sticks over his thighs and bellowing” takes on a whole new context post 2015…

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on January 29th, 2016
  5. Hey Mark, did our ancestors ever leave their home and parents? Did they ever get to an age where they just up and left, and moved on like we do in college nowadays? I find it odd that a great deal of college kids get depressed when they have to leave home, and was wondering if it is because it might be an unnatural and modern phenomenon?

    Alston Trbula wrote on May 12th, 2012
  6. There’s a restaurant in the Palo Alto area called Burger in a Bowl, or something like that. I don’t live there, but tried it once on a business trip. I was already primal, but their creativity with how to serve burgers in a bowl with a zillion variations was amazing. Certainly their menu lends weight to the idea that many sandwiches would be liberated by losing the bread.

    John wrote on May 12th, 2012
  7. Yum, this looks delicious!

    butternutrition wrote on May 12th, 2012
  8. Made and devoured, so good!!! See this being made frequently as Houston heats up!

    ~heather~ wrote on May 12th, 2012
  9. I just made and ate this, and it’s delicious! It’s definitely worth taking the time to make your own mayonnaise.

    Warwick wrote on May 12th, 2012
  10. This looks great! I can’t wait to eat it . :)

    Kevin wrote on May 12th, 2012
  11. Those carrots should be carrots and daikon, and should be quick-pickled.

    Tolovana wrote on May 12th, 2012
  12. 5 cups of cabbage? Did you guy use that much? Picture shows about a 1/2 cup…and that looks like a bit more than 1 pound of pork. And how many servings for this generous recipe. It’s not mentioned. I want to prepare it but want to confirm the amounts specified in the ingredient list. Anyone?

    KC wrote on May 13th, 2012
    • I served 7 adults with a double order but I did add some extra meat (about 1 extra pound). I had probably 1-2 portions left over. So to answer your question I believe you could serve 3-4 people with a single batch.

      One of the great things about it is that it is roughly 1/3 meat 2/3 vegetable so you really do not need to serve any sides.

      So yes, 5 cups of cabbage. I think thats going to be about 1 medium head of cabbage depending on if you tightly pack the measuring cup or loosely pack it.

      The photos are glamor shots! I do not believe they are intended to reflect the actual amount of ingredients used. The composition of the photo would be off if you tried to squeeze in all 5 cups.

      RedBear wrote on May 13th, 2012
  13. Just made this for Me and my Fella for Sunday supper, soo nice!! The pork marinade was particularly tasty. I’ll be making this again for sure. Thanks muchos Mark.

    Shelley O'Neill wrote on May 13th, 2012
  14. You should add a thai spicy beef salad recipe to the site. The crying tiger uses rice powder so it is not primal, but the spicy beef is almost primal. It contains probably 2 teaspoons of sugar for 4 people. The dressing is super acidic and spicy. It is the only thing I order at a thai restaurant. So good!

    Melissa wrote on May 13th, 2012
  15. Made this tonight for dinner! Yum! My only complaint is that there was WAY more salad than I needed for 2 grownups and 2 kids. Oh well… I bet it’ll be delicious as leftovers for lunch tomorrow too.

    Rachel S wrote on May 13th, 2012
  16. Made this tonight for dinner. For those of you worrying about portions – you don’t have to follow the recipe to the T! Make as much as you want. I actually had 3lbs of pork loin that I made up in batches and it was amazing. One of the best things I’ve had to eat in a long time! I think marinating the pork all day helped too.

    wisconsin wrote on May 13th, 2012
  17. I served a small group of moms (only one of which was primal) this delicious meal today and it got great reviews! In fact, I brought it to an “ice cream social” as a healthy alternative and the adults largely ignored the ice cream.

    I tried it with with both pan-seared and BBQ grilled pork loin and I found the BBQ grilled to be just a bit more to my liking. To be fair, it almost always is. =)

    It is a great recipe and I am certain it will be requested at our next get together.

    Thank you!

    RedBear wrote on May 13th, 2012
  18. @Alston: Great question, I agree that a sense of place and belonging is central to the human experience, and I don’t think that it is surprising that moving away from home is traumatic, at least at first.

    An animal is most secure and content in his own habitat, and in my experience as an international immigrant, it takes 5-6 years of adjustment before you feel like you belong in a particular area and are familiar enough with it to call it home.

    ZenBowman wrote on May 14th, 2012
  19. More on topic, Vietnamese food is glorious, they are the kings of pork in my book.

    ZenBowman wrote on May 14th, 2012
  20. It’s killing me that I don’t have a kitchen at work! I will have to make this up tonight and bring it for work tomorrow. Yum.

    HopGoddess wrote on May 14th, 2012
  21. Awesome recipe! I made this one for lunch today and it was great. I’ve always salivated over bahn mis and I never thought to just throw the stuff into a salad form. Thanks for the “duh!” ah-ha moment.

    Kim Gray wrote on May 14th, 2012
  22. Had this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! Thank you.

    Laura wrote on May 14th, 2012
  23. I have made Bahn Mi lettuce wraps at home with leftover pulled pork! We love asian flavors

    Team Oberg wrote on May 15th, 2012
  24. This is a great recipes.
    Thank You,

    healthy recipes wrote on May 15th, 2012
  25. instead of pickled veggies, use kim chi, purchased refrigerated, for yummy tang and happy probiotics!

    cz wrote on May 15th, 2012
  26. Haha, this recipe interested and impressed me. I’m Vietnamese and even can’t imagine how we eat Banh Mi with pork, we used to eat with pork’s liver paste and salad added with herbs,chilly. Anyway, this may be one way enjoy Banh Mi. Btw, have you been to Vietnam?

    Tran wrote on May 19th, 2012
    • I appreciate your comment. I too was looking for pork or chicken liver pate spread and potentially pickled veggies, like do chua (carrot and daikon). Now there are so many bahn mi variations, which is great too. Guess I’m more of a classical recipe type of guy.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on January 29th, 2016
  27. Just had this for dinner tonight. It is great. Thanks!

    Jayjen wrote on May 26th, 2012
  28. This is becoming a regular weeknight meal in my house. My husband, 2.5 year old, and I all love it!!

    Ran out of cucumbers and fresh cilantro this week, so last night we added green peppers & some coriander seeds. Very yummy. Might try to add some hot pepper flakes to the salad next time!

    Defrog wrote on June 1st, 2012
  29. Excellent! Loved it.

    Heidi wrote on June 8th, 2012
  30. I’ll immediately seize your rss feed as I can not find your email subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please permit me know in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

    bánh trung thu kinh đô wrote on August 17th, 2012
  31. made this for dinner tonight and it was AMAZING!

    Raya wrote on March 28th, 2013

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