These Banh Mi Bowls are just like the sandwich, but without the bread. Rice topped with sweet and spicy ground chicken, quick pickled vegetables, and slices of sweet mango. Flavorful, healthy, and perfect for weeknight dinners!
Whenever I have the option to choose between a sandwich and some for of bowl, I always opt for the bowl. Bread is great, but I find that most sandwiches have the bread to filling ratio out of proportion.
I’m more about what’s inside the sandwich, which is why bowl recipes are perfect for me. They’re loaded with protein, vegetables, maybe a sauce, and your choice of carb depending on if you want a rice bowl, noodle bowl, etc.
These Banh Mi Bowls are my riff on the classic Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. While they are certainly not authentic, they have many of the same flavors and components.
What Is Banh Mi?
Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that is often made with a baguette. The filling consists of pork, mayo, cilantro, cucumbers, and pickled carrots and daikon (a type of radish). In Vietnam it’s often eaten for breakfast or as a snack.
Ingredients For Banh Mi Bowls
Ground Chicken – Although pork is often used for banh mi, it’s something I don’t cook with very often. If you prefer to use ground pork instead of chicken it will work great.
Green Onions – Less pungent and more of a subtle flavor and than yellow onion.
Garlic and Ginger – Fresh ginger adds a wonderful fresh and mildly spicy flavor.
Soy Sauce – If you are making these bowls gluten-free, substitute with tamari. I use low sodium to control the salt.
Fish Sauce – This is a controversial sauce that a lot of people shy away from. I encourage you to give it a try as it adds a wonderful umami flavor to the chicken and won’t taste like fish. Tip: don’t smell it, if you’re on edge about using it.
Honey – Use to balance out the salty and spicy components in the sauce.
Sriracha – A spicy condiment often used in Asian cooking. It can be replaced with sambal oelek.
Cilantro and Basil – The fresh herbs really boost the flavor of the chicken
Mango – This is optional, but I love the sweetness of it to balance out the heat of the sriracha in the sauce and the jalapeño.
Carrots, Persian Cucumbers, Jalapeño and Radishes – All used for the pickled vegetables. If you don’t want to pickle them you can skip that part, but strongly recommend doing it because it adds a great sweet and tangy flavor to the bowls.
Sugar – Used in the pickling liquid. Don’t let the amount freak you out, it’s used to balance out the vinegar and you won’t be drinking the liquid.
Rice Vinegar – Mildly sweet and acidic, often used in Asian cooking.
How To Make Quick Pickled Vegetables
Pickled vegetables are incredibly easy to make so don’t let them intimidate you. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the carrot into ribbons and thinly slice the cucumbers, radishes, and jalapeño. If you have a mandolin it makes it easy to get the cucumbers extremely thin.
In a jar or bowl whisk together the vinegar, water, and sugar. Add in the vegetables and press them down if necessary so they’re covered in the pickling liquid. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
How To Make The Bowls
Make the pickled vegetables first by following the instructions above. Next, add the ground chicken to a large skillet with some oil. I used toasted sesame oil for added flavor, but you can use olive oil, melted coconut oil, or avocado oil if you prefer.
Combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, sriracha, and honey in a jar or bowl. Whisk them together until combined.
Crumble the chicken in the skillet and add in the green onions. Season with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt as the sauce has quite a bit in it. Once the chicken is mostly cooked through, pour in the sauce and stir everything together.
Let the sauce thicken for a couple minutes and then add in the lime juice, basil and cilantro and stir everything together. Taste if for seasoning and then remove it from the heat.
To assemble the bowls, start by adding in a serving of rice. Top the rice with some of the ground chicken, pickled vegetables, and slices of fresh mango. The mango isn’t necessary, but it does add a nice fresh, sweet element to the bowls to balance out the spiciness and salt.
- Ground chicken can be replaced with ground pork, beef, or turkey. I haven’t tried it with crumbled tofu, but I suspect that would work well too.
- If you are strongly opposed to using fish sauce, simply omit it.
- Rice can be substituted with quinoa, cauliflower rice, or even rice noodles.
- If you don’t want the bowls to be spicy omit the sriracha or cut back on the amount used. Want them extra spicy, add as much as you’d like.
- If you prefer to use dried spices, substitute with 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.
- If you don’t have rice vinegar for the pickling liquid use an equal amount of apple cider vinegar.
How Long Will The Pickled Vegetables Keep?
Quick pickled vegetables should be kept in the fridge in an airtight container and consumed within 2 weeks.
More Bowl Recipes
Did you make this Banh Mi Bowls? I’d love if you’d leave a recipe rating and review below.
- 1 cup carrot ribbons
- 2 Persian or mini cucumbers, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
- 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and sliced thin
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- Salt to taste
For The Chicken
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil or olive oil
- 1 pound ground chicken
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 green onions, sliced thin
- 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons sriracha
- 1/2 of a lime, juiced
- 2 tablespoons each, chopped cilantro and basil
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1 mango, peeled and sliced
- Cilantro for garnish
- Lime wedges
- In a jar or bowl combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Whisk together and then add in the vegetables. Press the vegetables down into the liquid so that they're covered. Cover with a lid and store in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes until ready to use.
- In a glass measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, honey, and sriracha.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the ground chicken and season with salt and pepper. Crumble the chicken with a wooden spoon and add in the green onions. Cook until it's nearly cooked through.
- Pour the sauce into the skillet and stir everything together. Continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly.
- Add in the lime juice, basil and cilantro and stir together. Remove from the heat and assemble the bowls.
- Add a serving of rice to each bowl and top with some of the chicken, pickled vegetables, and sliced mango. Garnish with cilantro and serve with a lime wedge.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 460Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 121mgSodium: 735mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 4gSugar: 28gProtein: 31g
Nutritional information is an estimate. Please consult a registered dietician for the most accurate nutritional information.