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!
- 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.