I don’t know if any of you guys watch Diners Drive-Ins & Dives but I swear it’s becoming an issue at my house. I might need a support group! That’s where I got the idea of Bahn Mi Street Tacos. They’re def a play on American Southern and Mexican with just a touch of Asian tossed in the mix. And just when you might think you’re bored of street tacos…this one is surprising in over the top flavor. A little crazy, even, but it just works!
These are inspired by The Banshee in Chico, California (just had to give them a shout out) and I was literally obsessed with these tacos after watching the episode, Coming Together in Cali. Now their tacos required slowly braising a pork shoulder in adobo sauce and lots of time & ingredients and they look amazing! Mine is a down and dirty shortcut version, just to get these on my table (and in my mouth) asap, and hopefully in yours, too.
About Bahn Mi Street Tacos:
I took the easy way out, here with a quickie recipe. I started out with leftover pulled pork (I usually have some in my freezer) spiced it up and then served my little street tacos as they did at the Banshee with a Spicy Mayo & some Vietnamese leaning veggies. So just imagine that silky soft and luscious pulled pork set off with a spicy Mayo. That’s just good on its own.
But when you add in the pickled veggies, the spicy pickled cucumbers (on this post ), and the sweet, tangy Quick Pickled Carrots you get a play on sweet/tangy/smoky spicy that’s gonna wake up every tastebud you have! It’s not much different in concept, I suppose, than adding pickles or cole-slaw to your pulled pork sandwiches, but in this case the flavor is new, fresh, and amped to the max.
The final finishing touch? A little cilantro, maybe some thinly sliced red onion and radish, and a few Fresno peppers over the top. I subbed with slices of mini bells, since I had no Fresnos but with everything else going on I didn’t miss them! I thought for a split second about a little Queso Fresco, and you could add some if you want, but there’s no need…these are so complex, bright, and fresh just as is. And speaking of fresh, the lime over top? Essential!
The Pulled Pork for the Bahn Mi Street Tacos:
It’s May now and we’re coming up on barbecue season in my part of the country, so think about this recipe if you have real deal smoked pulled pork. Save a little back. This recipe is so versatile, but will always vary a bit depending on the pulled pork you use. If you can use pulled pork that’s not sauced, that would be great but this will be fabulous using pulled pork that already has sauce on it, too, just a little different.
If you’re not into smoking, I have a few different pulled pork options on my site, and as I mentioned above, I’m in the habit of always freezing a little – it makes a great dinner save. Check out my Instant Pot Pulled Pork, my Slow Cooker Pulled Pork or Brisket, or this classic rubbed Pulled Pork in the Slow Cooker. This Mexican Shredded Pork or Beef (oven or slow cooker) would be absolutely fab made up in these tacos and already has all the flavor you could want.
And of course, if you don’t want to make any kind of pork (maybe you need these Stat?) you can buy your pulled pork from a restaurant, the deli, or maybe the store’s refrigerated section. Alway pricier, but there is something to be said about immediate gratification!
Spicing the Pulled Pork:
At the Banshee, the pork was a braised Adobo pork, and if you’re not familiar, the Adobo isn’t like the Goya seasoning (which I love) but is a blend of chiles and spices. To my pulled pork, I add a chopped up Chipotle chili and a roasted, skinned and seeded jalapeno (so there’s your heat) some taco seasoning, and then to drive that adobo flavor home, I use my Homemade Adobo Seasoning, which I’m not gonna lie, is a project. You can get close to that flavor by using a little chili powder, just plain old common grocery store chili powder. I also have a fab Homemade Taco Seasoning if you want to check it out.
I can tell you almost the amount I used which made the pork little spicy but not over the top, but I absolutely went by taste. I urge you to use your judgment and taste as you go, keeping in mind that there is a spicy mayo and spicy cucumbers and spicy Fresnos that goes on these tacos, too. I love that the pork is flavorful (and it has to be or those pickled veggies will overwhelm it) but not super spicy because that means just about anyone can eat these tacos and those who are heat seekers can pile on extra of all the spicy stuff.
Since adobo almost always has some kind of tangy vinegar component and sometimes a little sweet, I do the unthinkable. Yeah, I’m going there. A little ketchup. It adds some color, some body, and richness, and has both the tangy and the sweet. Just don’t go running around advertising that the Frugal Hausfrau is adding ketchup to her tacos, lol! Let’s keep that between us, eh?
The Method for the Bahn Mi Street Tacos Pulled Pork:
So basically, just heat your pork, the chipotle and jalapeno peppers, and the ketchup with a little water, just like you add a little water to your ground beef tacos. Add in the taco seasoning and the adobo or chili powder to taste. Simmer for a few minutes until that pork is soft and the raw taste of the taco/adobo or chili powder has dissipated and the water is just about gone.
I wouldn’t stir a lot and break up the pork, just be gentle, and it’s just fine if there’s a little crustiness. It just adds to the flavor. Taste and adjust any seasoning, you might want a little pinch of sugar or a little honey if it seems bitter on the tongue, maybe even a little drizzle of barbecue sauce if you want to go there. That’s it! Easy peasy, and it’s going to be such a complex flavor with so little effort, it’s going to feel like such a cheat!! And it IS!
The Spicy Mayo:
I’ve made these Bahn Mi Street Tacos a few times and made spicy mayo (which you can buy now, but why?) several times, and I just tinker with it. I like to start with about a half a cup of mayo (you can be the judge of how much you think your group will use) and add a good squirt of lime, then something hot.
In keeping with the Asian flair, I like to use a Garlic Chili Paste or Sambal Oelek, but Sriracha will do, or just about any hot sauce you have on hand. (No one is paying me, but you can see some of these products here on Hoy Fung Foods site.) Just add a teaspoon or two, stir and taste and add more if you want. The lime helps cut the mayo taste and the hot sauce disguises it a bit, but if you let it sit in the fridge for a while, it improves. And the rest of the lime does double duty when it comes time to serve.
Making the Spicy Pickled Cucumbers:
I just love the Spicy Pickled Cucumbers, but I didn’t want to make a whole big recipe of them. A few go a long way and they don’t keep very well. You can judge if they’re something most of your gang will go gaga over and make more or just whip up a few if not. Or just sub in sliced cucumber if you’d like.
For half a large cucumber, I used about two teaspoons of sugar, a dash or two of fish sauce, and about a teaspoon of Garlic Chili Paste. Just stir it together and let those cucumbers marinade for about an hour. Add a little salt if you think they need it.
I know the whole idea of fish sauce turns some people off, and if you don’t have it on hand, and don’t want to use it again, don’t buy a bottle just for a few cucumbers. That being said, don’t ever be afraid of fish sauce…I wasn’t raised eating much in the way of fish and am not a huge fish fan but I use fish sauce all the time when I cook many Asian recipes. That’s mainly because I’ll mix up my own sauces and fish sauce adds such a deep umami flavor and a little saltiness.
Saving Money on Bahn Mi Street Tacos:
Of course, it’s always going to be cheapest to make these if you make pulled pork (and of course, that pork shoulder should be sale priced.) If you have a great source, the pulled pork is stretched with these tacos, so it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg if you just pick some up, already made.
When shopping for your tortillas, check around your store. You might find them in the Mexican section, on the endcaps, in the refrigerator section and sometimes, even in Minnesota, they’re sprinkled around here and there! The prices can be quite a bit different so do a comparison.
I always stress how much money can be saved by whipping up your own Homemade Spice Blends, but beyond that, if you like to cook, if you like to tinker, it’s fun to customize them. Make them ahead and keep them on hand so it’s not a project when you cook!
I personally think the absolute essential add-ins to these tacos are the Quick Pickled Carrots, the Spicy Mayo, the Cilantro, and the Lime. And if you don’t use the pickled cucumbers, consider using plain ones. Riff with what you have; use what you like, and you’ll love these!
I hope you enjoy these street tacos and find some inspiration to make them your own! I know I had a lot of fun developing the recipe and eating them! I’d love to hear what you do with this method!
Stay safe out there, everyone!
Bahn Mi Street Tacos
- Total Time: 30 minutes plus rest time for the condiments
- Yield: 4 to 6 1x
- Category: Pork Main Dish
- Cuisine: Mexican or Southwestern
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups pulled pork
- about 1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 roasted jalapeno, skins, stem and seeds removed, chopped
- 1 chipotle chile (from a can of chipotle chilis) chopped
- about 1/3 cup (maybe a little more) water
- 2 to 3 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 2 teaspoons Adobo seasoning (or chili powder)
- optional, a little sugar or honey and/or a little barbecue sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- For serving, warmed corn tortillas (2 per taco), pickled carrots, spicy pickled cucumber, cilantro, thinly sliced red onion, thinly sliced radish, lime, and spicy mayonnaise, Fresno peppers, thinly sliced and lime wedges
The Spicy Mayonnaise:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- A good squeeze of lime
- 1 to 2 teaspoons garlic chili paste
The Pickled Cucumbers:
- 1/2 large cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic chili paste
Start the Spicy Pickled Cucumbers and the Spicy Mayonaisse ahead.
In a saucepan, add the pulled pork, ketchup, jalapeno, chipotle and a little water. Bring to a simmer. Sprinkle with taco seasoning and adobo seasoning (or chili powder) to taste. Heat through, stirring very gently if necessary, until nearly dry.Taste and adjust, adding a little honey or sugar or maybe a little barbecue sauce if desired. You’re looking for spicy, tangy, deeply flavorful concoction. Add a little salt or pepper to taste.
Note: this does have some spice, but feel free to add more of any of the spicy ingredients if desired. Keep in mind additional heat comes from the Spicy Mayonnaise, the Spicy Pickled Cucumbers, and the Fresno peppers.
To assemble, lay out two tacos, add the pulled pork, the Spicy Mayonnaise. Top with the Pickled Carrots and Spicy Pickled Cucumbers, Cilantro and red onion, sliced radishes and Fresno peppers. Serve with lime.
The Spicy Mayonnaise:
Mix together the Mayonnaise, lime, and chili garlic paste to taste. Make a little ahead and refrigerate until needed.
The Pickled Cucumbers:
Add cucumbers to a small bowl. Add in sugar, fish sauce and garlic chili paste to taste. Add a little salt if desired. Mix and set aside for about an hour.
Keywords: Adobo, Carrots, Chipotle, Cucumber, Hot Peppers, Jalapeno, ketchup, Leftover Pulled Pork, Lime, Mexican or Southwestern, Pickled Carrots, Pork, Pulled Pork, radish, Red onion, Taco Seasoning, Tacos, tortillas, Vietnamese