Xiu mai is a great example of a Vietnamese play on Chinese and French food influences. Meat dumplings (meatballs) are braised in a tomato sauce, then piled into a crispy banh mi with all the trimmings.






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)

This sandwich is one of my favourites to eat during the colder months.


  • 4 banh mi (Vietnamese bread rolls)
  • chicken liver pate, for spreading
  • large handful of coriander (cilantro)
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), cut into 15 cm (6 in) lengths
  • 1 Lebanese (short) cucumber, sliced into 8 long wedges



  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) minced (ground) pork
  • 200 g (7 oz) water chestnuts, drained and rinsed, finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 egg


  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste (concentrated puree)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • pinch of sea salt

Vietnamese butter

  • 4 egg yolks
  • pinch salt
  • 400 ml (14 fl oz) vegetable oil, plus extra if needed

Pickled carrot and daikon

  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) white vinegar
  • 100 g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 kg carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 300 g daikon (white radish), cut into matchsticks

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


This recipe needs to be started 2 days in advance if making the pickled carrot and daikon component.

1. To make the pickle liquid, combine the vinegar and sugar in a bowl and add 100 ml water. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Rinse the daikon and carrot under warm running water for 5 minutes, then drain thoroughly and pat dry with paper towel. Transfer to a large plastic container or non-reactive bowl. Pour the pickle liquid over the vegetables and set aside in the fridge for 2 days, after which time the pickles will be ready to use. Makes 1.3 kg. Leftover pickle will store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

2. To make the meatballs, place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Slap the mixture firmly against the side of the bowl to help bind the proteins together.

3. Line a bamboo steamer with baking paper and set over a saucepan of simmering water. Roll the pork mixture into golf ball–sized balls, then transfer to the steamer and steam for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

4. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium–high heat. Add the garlic and shallot and cook for 2–3 minutes until soft, then add the tomato and cook for a further 4–5 minutes until the tomato softens and begins to collapse. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, fish sauce, sugar and salt and bring to the boil. Add the meatballs, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the meatballs are soft and tender and the sauce has thickened.

5. Meanwhile, make the Vietnamese butter by placing the eggs yolks and salt in a food processor. Blitz to combine. With the motor running, very slowly add the oil in a thin, steady stream. The butter should become thick and firm and resemble soft butter. If it hasn't thickened by the time you've added all the oil, add a little more oil until it comes together.

6. Slice open the banh mi along the side without cutting all the way through. Spread one side generously with butter and the other side with pate, then add the pickles, coriander, spring onion and cucumber. Evenly divide the meatballs and sauce among the banh mi and serve.


Recipe from Street Food Vietnam by Jerry Mai, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99