Bulgogi Beef Banh Mi
This unique bulgogi beef banh mi is a Korean take on the popular Vietnamese sandwich. A crispy and airy bread roll is slathered with creamy gochujang mayo and packed with caramelized bulgogi and juicy, charred nectarines. There’s also some fresh crunch from the sliced cucumber and tangy, pickled Korean radish.
While banh mi already represents a fusion of Vietnamese and French cuisine, I decided to add my own modern Korean twist by adding beef bulgogi and charred yellow nectarines.
The yellow nectarines add a unique juicy, sweet flavor that surprisingly works amazingly well in this sandwich. I also wanted to take advantage of them while they’re still in season and currently on sale at the grocery store.
The sweet, savory, and tangy flavor profile remains largely the same even after these tweaks. I wanted to make sure this unique banh mi still has flavor notes reminiscent of the original sandwich.
What is banh mi?
Banh mi or bánh mì is a Vietnamese sandwich and popular street food. It’s typically prepared with a crispy and airy baguette. The savory meat filling and creamy mayo is balanced out with fresh cilantro, cucumber, and tangy, pickled vegetables.
Banh Mi Ingredients
Try to find a French baguette with a crispy crust. If you can’t find a baguette, you can also use french rolls. Just make sure that the baguette or roll isn’t too dense.
Authentic, Vietnamese banh mi bread looks similar to the French baguette, but is a bit shorter in size. It also has a crispier crust and softer, airy center.
Side note: Did you know that “banh mi” means bread in Vietnamese?
Popular protein options for a classic banh mi include roast pork, liver pâté, chicken, turkey cold cuts, meatballs, and beef.
My Korean take on banh mi uses beef bulgogi. The sweet and savory sauce forms a flavorful glaze and sear as it caramelizes on the hot skillet. It works wonderfully in this sandwich.
When I make bulgogi, I usually freeze uncooked batches ahead of time. This makes it easy to whip up this flavor-packed and extra satisfying sandwich in no time. Bulgogi hot pot is another great way to use some frozen bulgogi.
Try not to forget the pickled radish and carrots for your banh mi. The tanginess helps cut some of the richness from the savory meat and adds some fresh crunch.
I julienne my vegetables by hand, but you can save more time by using a mandolin.
I use Korean pickled radish and carrots (moosangchae, 무생채) in this “Korean” banh mi.
Vietnamese pickled radish and carrots, which is traditionally used in banh mi, is made with daikon radish. On the other hand, Korean pickled radish and carrots is made with Korean radish. I get mine from my local Korean grocery store, H-mart.
While the two honestly taste pretty similar, the Korean radish in moosangchae has a softer taste and texture compared to daikon radish.
Moosangchae is also made with a bit of Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru, 고추가루), making it touch spicy and subtly pink in color.
It’s easy to make and uses simple ingredients. You can let it pickle for at least one hour, but they’ll taste even better the next day.
You’ll often see moosangchae served as a side dish (banchan, 반찬) at Korean BBQ restaurants.
The crispy bread rolls are always generously smothered with creamy mayonnaise. I decided to use my easy gochujang mayo in this recipe.
The gochujang mayo is slightly sweetened with coconut sugar and subtly spicy from the fermented Korean chili paste (gochujang, 고추장). I also use this for my bulgogi burger and galbi tacos.
The fresh vegetables are the finishing touches that bring all of the flavors together.
Adding a layer of thinly sliced cucumber is an effortless way to add some juicy crunch. I use my peeler to get nice thin ribbons of cucumber. It also saves time.
I also always add plenty of fresh, herby cilantro for another dimension of flavor.
You can also add a kick of spice by adding fresh slices of jalapeño. I don’t add jalapeños to this particular sandwich because it’s already full of flavor. I also want to highlight the bulgogi and nectarine flavors.
Mise en place
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If you make this Bulgogi Beef Banh Mi, I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave a comment and/or recipe rating at the bottom of this page. And if you have a photo of your food, be sure to tag me on Instagram!
Bulgogi Beef Banh Mi
- 2 crispy French baguettes
- 1½ lb beef bulgogi (see notes)
- 4 mini cucumbers, thinly sliced into ribbons lengthwise
- 2 yellow nectarines, thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup cilantro leaves
Pickled Korean Radish & Cucumber
- 3 cups Korean radish, julienned (400g)
- 2 medium sized carrot, julienned (100g)
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp cane sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp gochugaru
- 6 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tsp coconut sugar
- 1 tsp gochujang
- Place the Korean radish and carrots in a sealable bowl. Mix in the rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and gochugaru until well incorporated. Let it sit in the fridge for at least one hour. It will be good for up to a week in the fridge.
- Mix together the mayonnaise, gochujang, and coconut sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
- Cook the sliced nectarines on an oiled medium skillet over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes or until they are slightly charred, flipping halfway.
- Assemble the sandwich: slice the baguette in half lengthwise without cutting all the way through. Slather one half of the baguette with the gochujang mayonnaise and layer with bulgogi (see notes), charred nectarines, sliced cucumbers, pickled radish and carrots, and cilantro. Serve immediately.