Bread-Free Bahn-Mi Bowls


Bahn-mi translates literally to “bread” in Vietnamese, so the title of this recipe is a bit of an oxymoron. French colonists introduced the baguette to the Vietnamese in the 1800’s, but they quickly made the sandwich their own. Traditional Bahn-Mi sandwiches are filled with meat, oftentimes a pate and/or shredded pork/beef, a slather of mayonnaise, topped with picked carrots, radish, jalapeño, and cilantro. It’s the perfect fusion of Eastern and Western flavors. Although you can still enjoy all the flavors without the bread!

The point of this particular recipe is to bring the vibrant, delicious flavors of Bahn-Mi into the home kitchen. It isn’t traditional or literal. If you are looking for a more traditional recipe, this article in Saveur Magazine is a good place to start. Instead, for this recipe, I tried to incorporate everyday ingredients and simple cooking methods.

You can make most of the elements in advance so dinner time is a breeze! Simply arrange the following elements in a bowl, recipes listed (or linked) below:

  • Slow-braised beef or pork
  • Brown Rice
  • Quick-pickled vegetables
  • Fresh cilantro, jalapeños, chili-garlic paste
  • You can also top with Avocado-Cilantro-Lime sauce for extra creaminess.

Here’s the recipe:

Bread Free Bahn Mi (in a Bowl)

Print Recipe
Serves: 4-6 Cooking Time: 4-6 hours in slow cooker


  • 2 lbs. beef chuck, sliced into chunks (or pork shoulder)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce (or coconut aminos if gluten-free)
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • ---
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced
  • 1 clove whole garlic
  • ---
  • 2 cups brown rice, or cilantro lime rice, cooked according to package instructions



Place first 6 ingredients in slow-cooker and set to low. Cook 4-6 hours until meat is fork tender and shreds easily.


While beef is cooking, place vinegar, sugar, salt in a saucepan and bring to a slow simmer. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Cool mixture slightly.


Place shredded carrots and whole clove of garlic in a mason jar. Slowly pour warm (not hot) vinegar mixture on top of carrots. You can store in fridge for 2 weeks.


Serve rice, shredded beef, and pickled veggies together in a bowl. Top with cilantro, extra fresh jalapeños, and chili-garlic sauce if desired!

I love these kinds of recipes, because you can use certain elements of it, and mix and match with other ingredients you have in the fridge to arrange any kind of dinner you like. For example, instead of rice, you can make a Bahn-Mi inspired taco, just place the shredded meat and pickled veggies inside a toasted tortilla. Add cheese if you please. 😉 If you’re looking for a low-carb/keto version, you could make a salad…just replace the rice with greens and top with Carrot-Ginger Dressing or Avocado-Cilantro-Lime sauce (recipe linked above.)

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