Vietnamese shrimp sandwich on a plate piled with pickled veggies, fresh herbs and peanut sauce.
Condiments & Sauces,  Recipes,  Soups, Salads, & Sandwiches

Vietnamese Shrimp Sandwiches with Peanut Sauce

This post has been compensated as part of my partnership with #Foodiechats and the Georgia Peanut Commission and may contain affiliate links. As always, all opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep me creative in my tiny kitchen!

This Vietnamese shrimp banh mi-inspired sandwich combines colorful quick-pickled vegetables, a sweet-and-spicy peanut sauce, fresh herbs, & tender shrimp.

Vietnamese shrimp sandwich on a plate piled with pickled veggies, fresh herbs and peanut sauce.

Peanuts are such a versatile ingredient. There are so many fun and interesting ways to use them beyond a standard (or grilled!) PB&J sandwich or classic peanut butter cookie recipes.

So when Foodiechats and the Georgia Peanut Commission reached out to me about creating another recipe for National Peanut Month showing the versatility of peanuts I was very excited.

Peanuts are Georgia’s Official State Crop. Did you know that Georgia has approximately 3400 peanut farmers? The peanut industry contributes more than 50,000 jobs in Georgia. I have family in Georgia, and really enjoy learning more about the food and agricultural community there.

My previous #PeanutPower partnerships include my recipes for Elvis-Style Challah French Toast and Peanutty Rice with Crispy Fried Shallots.

For this latest recipe, I wanted to visit another part of the world and bring something different to the table. I decided to channel Vietnamese cuisine and make a shrimp sandwich that was a bit like a banh mi but quicker to put together.

And I needed an excuse to slather on this deliciously rich, slightly spicy peanut sauce onto all.of.the.things.

Bowl of Vietnamese peanut sauce with fresh herbs alongside

My family really enjoys Asian Cuisine, and Vietnamese and Thai recipes are some of our favorites. My husband and son can both go to town on banh mi sandwiches – usually the ones made with roast pork and paté.

But my obsession lies in all of those delicious pickled veggies and fresh herbs that come along with them.

And while peanut sauce isn’t standard on a banh mi sandwich, it’s certainly present in other Vietnamese dishes, and I knew it would work beautifully slathered onto my shrimp version.

Spreading peanut sauce onto a sliced baguette

The sandwich isn’t exactly like a banh mi (my husband was joking that we should call it a “po’ mi” since it’s kind of similar to a po’ boy and kind of similar to a banh mi), but it was heavily influenced by it.

Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list here – it looks like a lot, but the pieces all come together very easily. And you can make all the components ahead of time and then assemble when you’re ready to eat.

It basically comes down to 3 main bits that can all be made and refrigerated in advance, and then the sandwich assembly.

So let’s break each piece down, shall we?

Ingredients for a Vietnamese shrimp boil on a butcher block

Flavoring the shrimp with a shrimp boil

When it comes to cooking the shrimp I wanted a way to add a little extra flavor without overcooking the shrimp. Shrimp cooks very quickly, and they can become rubbery if you overcook them.

You could absolutely use pre-cooked shrimp, leftover, chilled shrimp, or even quickly sauté some shrimp in this recipe. But if you have a few minutes to spare, I promise that the flavor payoff will be fantastic if you boil them as I’ve described in this recipe.

Stock pot full of spices, lemon, garlic, and onions for a shrimp boil

This method is like what I did with my Killer Shrimp Cocktail recipe. Adding fresh citrus, onion, garlic, and dried herbs and spices to a stockpot of water and letting it boil for 10 minutes really flavors the water before you cook with it. Star anise is a staple of Vietnamese cuisine and really perfumes the water nicely.

By the time the shrimp go in, the water already has a lot of flavor, and that flavor gets infused into the shrimp while it quickly cooks.

Use a spider or slotted spoon to remove the shrimp from the boiling water and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to quickly stop the cooking. You can then drain the water and pop the shrimp into the fridge until you’re ready to assemble your sandwiches.

Bowl of raw shrimp with tails on

One quick note – I like buying frozen shrimp. It’s convenient to keep on hand and thaws relatively quickly. I usually put the frozen shrimp in a bowl and cover them with cold water, pop a lid on the bowl, and refrigerate it overnight.

Then when I’m ready to make dinner the next day the shrimp is all thawed and ready to go!

Fresh shrimp at the seafood counter has often been previously frozen and defrosted. Most types of frozen shrimp are flash-frozen shortly after being caught so that frozen shrimp is actually fresher than the “fresh” stuff at the counter.

You can find shrimp that’s already split and deveined, and then you just quickly peel the shells and tails off. This way is usually less expensive than buying fully deveined and peeled shrimp.

When I made this recipe, I found some that were peeled and deveined but still had the tails on. I peeled the tails off while the water was boiling. No big deal.

Carrots, cucumber, and daikon radish along with pickling spices

Making the quick-pickled vegetables

I am no-so-mildly obsessed with all things pickled (remember my Burrata Pizza with Prosciutto and Pickled Grapes??). I make a lot of quick pickles to go with our dinners, and I knew that method would work well for these Vietnamese shrimp sandwiches, too.

You can slice your veggies however you like, but thin is best for the pickling liquid to do its job quickly.

I used a vegetable peeler to get ribbons, but you could also thinly slice them with a knife. You could even use a spiralizer or the grater plate on a food processor for the carrot and daikon.

Just keep the slices of veggies consistent in size so everything pickles at the same rate.

Bowl of shaved carrots, cucumbers, and daikon radish

I like to whisk together the seasoned rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, and salt in a large bowl. If the honey doesn’t dissolve into the vinegar for your pickling liquid, microwave the mixture in 15-second intervals, whisking in between each, until dissolved.

After that mixture is ready, use a vegetable peeler to shave the cucumber, carrot, and daikon radish right into the bowl. You can really use as much or as little of each veggie as you’d like – just fill the bowl up with veggies and give them a good toss.

Again, you can transfer the bowl into the fridge until you’re ready to serve. I like the way they taste once they’ve been chilled for a bit, even just 10-15 minutes. They hold up well for a few days, making it perfect for leftovers!

Bowls of pickled veggies and Vietnamese-spiced shrimp, and a piece of baguette

Making the peanut sauce

This peanut sauce. Oh maaaaaan. It’s so, so good.

I used a similar peanut sauce in my recipe for Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls with Shrimp + Peanut Sauce.

This time around, I reduced the amount of sweetener and changed it from sugar to honey. Depending on how sweet your peanut butter is, you may want more (or none at all!) so be sure to taste your peanut sauce and adjust if necessary.

Containers of Georgia peanuts, peanut oil and peanut butter

Georgia peanuts sent over a bunch of different peanutty products, and I chose to utilize 3 of them in this recipe.

I like a bit of crunch in my dishes, so I roughly chopped the skinless & salted peanuts to sprinkle over the Vietnamese shrimp sandwiches. They would be good stirred into the peanut sauce or even sprinkled over it when you’re assembling you sandwich, too.

For the peanut sauce, I used both the green peanut oil and the creamy peanut butter from Georgia Grinders.

Peanut oil is great for cooking at high temperatures, making it a perfect candidate for things like deep-frying.

The peanut butter was soooo nice and smooth and had a great flavor. It’s only made with peanuts and sea salt, so it isn’t sweet.

Spoon of creamy peanut butter with peanut products in the background

I like to sauté some minced onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in peanut oil in a small saucepan to start the sauce. Getting a little color here infuses the oil with a lot of great flavor.

If you don’t want any spice, feel free to omit the pepper flakes. If you like things extra spicy, go ahead and add more! I used 3/4 teaspoon and it had a little bit of a kick, but not so much that my 8-year-old would shy away from it.

Once everything starts getting golden, whisk in the remaining ingredients. Bring it to a simmer just for a minute or so and transfer it to a bowl to cool down.

The peanut sauce can hang out in the fridge if you won’t be using it for a while. It comes together really quickly and is good on SO many things.

Assembling Vietnamese shrimp sandwiches with peanut sauce

Assembling and serving the Vietnamese shrimp sandwiches

Once all of your components are together, all you need for assembly is a baguette and some fresh herbs.

I like to lay down a nice layer of peanut sauce on the bottom half of my baguette. Feel free to sprinkle on some chopped peanuts if you’d like, then pile it up with some of the chilled shrimp.

Adding pickled vegetables to a Vietnamese shrimp sandwich

This is where those gorgeous ribbons of quick-pickled vegetables come in. Pile some on top of your shrimp (and, let’s be real, if it’s me I’m also gonna pile some on the side to enjoy).

Add some fresh mint and cilantro, a sprinkling of peanuts, and dig in! Thai basil would be great here, too. You can use just one herb or a combination of a few.

My husband also likes some sriracha mayo on these Vietnamese shrimp sandwiches. That little extra kick took it to the next level for him. To make your own, just squeeze some sriracha into a few tablespoons of mayo and stir to combine. Taste it and add more sriracha to taste, depending on how spicy you like things.

Add as much or as little of everything as you like – I like to serve everything in bowls so everyone can help themselves and assemble their own shrimp sandwiches.

If you aren’t feeling this as a sandwich, it also makes a great salad over butter lettuce.

One Vietnamese shrimp sandwich assembled with ingredients alongside for more

These sandwiches SERIOUSLY knocked our socks off. They were so, so good, and really didn’t take long to put together.

Again, don’t let the ingredient list intimidate you. And if you’re concerned about timing, make some or all of the components ahead of time!

Looking for more shrimp recipes? Check out some of our favorites:

Doing some online shopping? Check out my Amazon Shop page for recommendations!

Recipe for Vietnamese Shrimp Sandwiches with Peanut Sauce

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Vietnamese shrimp sandwich on a plate piled with pickled veggies, fresh herbs and peanut sauce.

Vietnamese Shrimp Sandwiches with Peanut Sauce

  • Author: Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen - Ashley Covelli
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Sandwiches 1x
  • Category: Sandwich
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese

Description

This Vietnamese shrimp banh mi-inspired sandwich combines colorful quick-pickled vegetables, a sweet-and-spicy peanut sauce, fresh herbs, & tender shrimp.


Scale

Ingredients

For Shrimp Boil:

  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

For Quick Pickled Veggies:

  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 mini cucumbers (or 1 English cucumber), thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 1 daikon radish, peeled and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)

For Peanut Sauce:

For Sandwiches:

  • 1 baguette
  • 1 small bunch mint leaves
  • 1 small bunch cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. For the shrimp boil: Place the lemon, peppercorns, bay leaf, star anise, onion and garlic in a large stock pot and fill with water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.
  2. Add shrimp to the water and cook until pink and slightly firm, about 3 minutes. Plunge the shrimp into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain shrimp and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. For the quick pickled veggies: In a large bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add daikon, cucumber, and carrot and toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. For the peanut sauce: Heat peanut oil in a small saucepan over moderate heat. Once hot, add onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 4 minutes. Whisk in water, peanut butter, hoisin, tomato paste, and sugar and bring to a simmer. Whisk for 1 minute, then transfer to a small bowl to cool.
  5. To assemble the sandwiches: Cut baguette into 4 equal pieces, then slice each in half lengthwise. Spread a thin layer of peanut sauce on the cut side of the baguette. Top with shrimp, pickled veggies, fresh mint, and cilantro. Add a sprinkling of peanuts if you like, place the top on your sandwich, and enjoy!

Notes

If the honey doesn’t dissolve into the vinegar for your pickling liquid, microwave the mixture in 15-second intervals, whisking in between each, until dissolved.

You can slice your veggies however you like, but thin is best for the pickling liquid to do its job quickly. I used a vegetable peeler to get ribbons, but you could also thinly slice them with a knife. You could even use a spiralizer or the grater plate on a food processor for the carrot and daikon.

You can stir chopped peanuts into the peanut sauce if you like a chunkier texture. They’re great sprinkled onto your sandwich, too!

Keywords: banh mi, shrimp boil, peanut sauce

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