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Smash Banh Mi Tacos

May 2, 2024 | 0 comments

Easy, speedy smash banh mi tacos are a WONDERFUL twist on the smashed taco trend. All that bright, zesty banh mi flavor, in a very fun new form. They use everyday ingredients so they’re ready to slot into your weekly menu rotation and are also FAB for dinner parties.

Three chicken banh mi tacos on a wooden board.

My smash dumpling tacos went a little bit crazy on Instagram, and I’ve lost count of your messages telling me how much you and your families loved them (they seem to be particularly popular with picky kids which is always a win!) So I figured, you might enjoy this twist on that recipe.

This version, inspired by the flavors of Vietnamese banh mi, feels fresh, light and very summery to me. Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich – usually filled with some kind of meat (juicy pork or chicken are common), lots of fresh herbs, pickles and creamy mayo (it also usually includes paté which I’m skipping here). They’re a DELICIOUS sandwich and work perfectly in taco form. All you have to do is combine some cupboard staples with ground chicken, press onto mini tortillas, then pan-fry for a couple of minutes and go to town on the fresh toppings.

I’m leveling things up by adding another Vietnamese element that’s used in two ways here – nuoc cham. This is a VERY punchy sauce synonymous with Vietnamese cooking and makes the perfect little drizzle for the tacos. It’s salty, sour, sweet and ultra savory. Because it’s not dissimilar to a pickling liquid, instead of pickling the carrots and cucumber separately – I’m using the nuoc cham itself as the pickling liquid. So not only does that mean less work, but it also gives you MORE of that lovely flavor in the tacos themselves.

While these are fabulous as a quick and easy weeknight meal, they’re wonderful for summer entertaining. Cook them on the grill in bulk, then either let everyone help themselves to the toppings or serve them assembled.

Ingredients

Ingredients for banh mi tacos laid out and labelled.
  • Ground chicken. You could swap the chicken for turkey, pork, beef, or a plant-based alternative.
  • Fish sauce. An absolute STAPLE in Vietnamese cooking, this is a non-negotiable here. I know it can be divisive as it has a strong smell, but I promise it won’t make your tacos taste fishy. It just brings a gorgeously deep savory flavor you can’t achieve with salt alone.
  • Herbs. I’m using fresh mint, cilantro (coriander), and Thai basil – but you could play around here. I know not everyone is a fan of cilantro, so you could use more mint or Thai basil if you don’t like it. Thai basil can be tricky to find (it has a slight aniseed flavor) so if you can’t find it, regular basil works well too.
  • Spicy mayo. I’m using my favorite speedy gochujang aioli here, but you can use any spicy mayo you like, regular mayo, or sweet chili jam.
  • For the nuoc cham dressing. You’ll again need fish sauce along with lime juice, rice vinegar (or use white wine vinegar/apple cider vinegar), red chili, garlic, ginger and a little sugar (or use maple syrup/honey/agave syrup if you prefer).

How to make them

Mix your ground chicken, scallions, ginger, garlic and fish sauce, making sure everything is combined well. Then scoop up a heaped spoonful of the mixture and press it into a thin layer on each mini tortilla.

Heat a little oil in a large frying pan or skillet, then cook the tacos, meat side down, until golden. Then flip and crisp up the other side. Spoon some spicy mayo onto the taco, then top with the pickled carrots and cucumber, a big pile of fresh herbs, a good drizzle of the nuoc cham dressing and then I like to sprinkle over some toasted cashews or peanuts to finish. Serve with more spicy mayo on the side.

Got a question?

Could I use a different ground meat?

Yes! Swap the ground chicken for turkey, pork, or beef, or use your favorite plant-based alternative.

Can I make them in advance?

You can definitely prep everything in advance, and then just cook and assemble the tacos when you’re ready. You can spoon the chicken onto the tacos 24 hours ahead of time if you like – you’ll need to store them with a piece of parchment paper in between each if you layer them, so they don’t stick together. The nuoc cham dressing and the pickles will keep well in the fridge, so you can make them well ahead of time if you like.

I don’t like cilantro – what else could I use?

Swap the cilantro for more mint and Thai basil (or regular basil), or you could use flat-leaf parsley.

My meat isn’t sticking to the taco, what am I doing wrong?

You really want to press (smash) the tacos into the pan when you’re cooking them. If you don’t, the tortilla will puff up and start to separate from the meat layer and it won’t stick. But at the end of the day, if your meat doesn’t stick to the taco it really isn’t the biggest deal so don’t worry too much! You can still enjoy them in the exact same way.

Watch how to make them

Like this recipe? Here are more easy taco ideas for you

If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you! You can leave me a comment below.

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Three chicken banh mi tacos on a wooden board.

Smash Banh Mi Tacos


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  • Author: Kate Phillips
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Low Calorie

Description

Easy, speedy smash banh mi tacos are a WONDERFUL twist on the smashed taco trend. All that bright, zesty banh mi flavor, in a very fun new form. They use everyday ingredients so they’re ready to slot into your weekly menu rotation and are also FAB for dinner parties.


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the tacos –

  • 1lb/500g ground chicken
  • 3 scallions (spring onions), finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 cucumber, julienned
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • A handful of fresh mint leaves
  • A handful of fresh cilantro (coriander)
  • A handful of Thai basil
  • 1/4 cup toasted cashew nuts, crushed
  • 1/4 cup spicy mayo

For the Vietnamese nuoc cham dressing –

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated

Instructions

  1. Make the dressing. Add 3 tablespoons of fish sauce, 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 1 tablespoon of sugar, the chopped garlic, chill and grated ginger to a bowl and mix to combine so that the sugar dissolves. 
  2. Pickle the carrot and cucumber. Add the julienned carrot and cucumber to the bowl with the dressing and set aside for now to pickle.
  3. Mix the topping. Add the ground chicken, chopped scallions, garlic, ginger, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and 1 teaspoon of salt to a large mixing bowl. Mix well to combine, so that the seasoning is evenly mixed throughout the ground chicken.
  4. Top the tacos. Scoop up a heaped spoonful of the chicken mixture, and spread it into a thin, even layer all over a mini tortilla. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas.
  5. Cook the tacos. Set a large frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat, then drizzle a little olive oil into the pan. Place a tortilla, chicken side down, into the pan. Use a spatula or fish slice to press the tortilla firmly into the pan – this will help the chicken cook quickly, giving it a lovely charred crust, and help it to stick to the tortilla. Let it cook for 4 minutes, then flip, and cook for another minute on the other side. PRO TIP: You can cook a few tacos at the same time, depending on the size of your pan.
  6. Top the tacos. Spread each taco with a little spicy mayo, then top with the pickled carrots and cucumber. Drizzle a little of the nuoc cham dressing on top, then finish with the cilantro, mint, Thai basil and a sprinkling of toasted cashews. Serve with more spicy mayo and nuoc cham on the side and enjoy.

Notes

INGREDIENT NOTES: Swap the ground chicken for turkey, pork, beef or your favorite plant-based alternative. Use ginger paste instead of fresh ginger if you like (but fresh will taste better!) You could swap fish sauce for a vegan alternative (they’re usually made with mushrooms). If you don’t like cilantro, use more mint and Thai basil. And if you can’t find Thai basil, regular basil is great, or just use more cilantro and mint.

STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS: Once you’ve cooked and topped the tacos, they’re best eaten then and there as the dressing can make the tortilla itself get a little soggy if it sits out for too long (but honestly they’re still delicious so it’s not really a problem for me!) You can prep everything in advance though, and cook and assemble when you’re ready. The nuoc cham dressing will keep for at least 1 week in the fridge, and you can pickle the carrots and cucumber the day before serving. You can also mix the chicken topping in advance and either store it in the fridge and top the tortillas when you’re ready to cook, or, top the tortillas and pop them into the fridge overnight. If you do that, you’ll want to place parchment paper in between them if you stack them. Otherwise, they may go soggy and stick together.

MEAT NOT STICKING TO YOUR TORTILLA? Make sure you really press (smash) the tacos into the pan when you’re cooking them. If you don’t, the tortilla will puff up and start to separate from the meat layer and it won’t stick. You also want to make sure your pan is nice and hot. But at the end of the day, if your meat doesn’t stick to the taco it really isn’t the biggest deal so don’t worry too much! You can still enjoy them in the exact same way.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: fakeaways
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: vietnamese

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 3 tacos
  • Calories: 655
  • Sugar: 14.5g
  • Sodium: 4715.4mg
  • Fat: 29.6g
  • Saturated Fat: 5.5g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 13.4g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 65.7g
  • Fiber: 3.8g
  • Protein: 34.9g
  • Cholesterol: 127.5mg

Welcome!

I’m Kate, the creator behind Dished. I love creating flavour packed, simple (ish) recipes for you, designed for every day and special occasions.

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