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Jun 15, 2017

Caramel Shrimp Banh Mi (Caramel Shrimp Vietnamese Sandwiches)

This Caramel Shrimp Banh Mi recipe takes Shrimp cooked in caramel sauce, which is usually served with rice, and then stuffs the shrimp into a roll, along with the tangy and fresh flavors of this Vietnamese street food sandwich. 

Caramel Shrimp Banh Mi

This Caramel Shrimp Banh Mi Sandwich is filled with succulent shrimp in caramel sauce, sweet pickled red onions, cucumber slices, chiles, and cilantro. The bread is hollowed a bit, and then adorned with a schmear of mayonnaise, and sprinkled with Maggi Seasoning Sauce. This sandwich is OMG good.

I live in Southern California near Little Saigon, where Banh Mi sandwich shops abound, but the first time I actually tried a Banh Mi was actually in Portland, Oregon, when I made a fan girl pilgrimage to Ken's Artisan Bakery. I loved the combination of flavors, especially the combination of the bread with the crispy crust, the chiles, cilantro, cucumber, Maggi, Mayonnaise, and the pickled vegetables.

Caramel Shrimp Banh Mi

When I got home, I immediately bought The Banh Mi Handbook by Andrea Nguyen, and made this Maggi Steak Banh Mi with Daikon and Carrot Pickle. Delicious.

When Colleen of Faith Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice announced this month's theme for Fish Friday Foodies, Summer Sandwiches, I knew I wanted to make another Banh Mi.

As a bread geek, I can't actually make a sandwich without first baking the bread, so I re-made these Banh Mi rolls for this month's Fish Friday.

Caramel Shrimp Banh Mi

If you don't want to make your own rolls, just purchase good quality baguettes, and cut them into six inch portions. Or..... you could make your own! Do it!

The shrimp in this recipe is cooked for a long time to develop the caramel. This normally is not recommended when cooking shrimp, but you need to go with it because the method creates a wonderfully candied shrimp.

Caramel Shrimp Banh Mi

I also made this red onion pickle for this sandwich. Delicious, and so mild after being pickled!

Caramel Shrimp Banh Mi

After the recipe, be sure to check out the rest of the fish sandwiches from my Fish Friday Foodie pals.

Caramel Shrimp Banh Mi (Caramel Shrimp Vietnamese Sandwich) Recipe

Caramel Shrimp Banh Mi (Caramel Shrimp Vietnamese Sandwich) Recipe


  • 1 1/2 pounds raw medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sugar and one tablespoon of water
  • 2 to 3 drops distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 green onion, green part only, thinly sliced
  • 5 to 6 banh mi rolls
  • Mayonnaise
  • Maggi Seasoning
  • Handful of cilantro leaves and stems
  • Slices of Persian or English cucumbers
  • Slices of chiles

For the Pickled Onions

  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup distilled white vinegar


  1. Toss the shrimp with the salt, and then rinse it in a colander. Drain and put the shrimp in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and the fish sauce and the yellow onion. Set aside.
  2. In a medium skillet, add the sugar and water plus the vinegar. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture dissolves, for one minute.
  3. Stop stirring, and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes, until the mixture turns light yellow. Swirl the pan for about a minute or two, until the mixture turns light brown.
  4. Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for about 3 minutes, until it turns a dark amber. Add a splash of water and reheat over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Add the shrimp and onion mixture and cook on high heat for 13 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly, until you have a small amount of liquid. Add the oil and cook for another minute. Turn off the heat, add the black pepper and green onions and stir. Add salt to taste.
  5. To assemble the sandwiches, slice the bread and scoop out the bread to create a cavity. Spread with mayonnaise and add a few dashes with Maggi seasoning. Add cilantro, slices of cucumber, chile slices, and pickled onion. Fill with the shrimp. 

To Make the Onions

  1. Place the onion slices in a bowl of water for about 10 minute. Drain well, and then pack into a 2 cup jar.
  2. Combine the salt, sugar, water, and vinegar into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, let cool for about 2 minutes, and pour over the onion slices. Let sit, uncovered, until cooled. Cover and refrigerate for up to four weeks. Amazing. 
Yield: 5 to 6 sandwiches

Recipe adapted from The Banh Mi Handbook

Caramel Shrimp Banh Mi

Would you like to comment?

  1. I love everything about this sandwich...from the caramelized shrimp to the homemade buns to the homemade pickled onions. Now I just need to figure out how to finagle a lunch invitation.

  2. You blew my mind! Shrimp, caramel, pickled onions...I'm all in and already drooling!!!

    1. I'll be sharing this recipe for my Thursday Thirteen this's just too yummy looking not to!

  3. This is a seriously stunning sandwich! The flavors sound mouth-watering!

    1. Thanks so much Dawn. It is really tasty, and worth the effort.

  4. OMG, pardon me while I wipe the drool off my chin. I just want the shrimp, and the bread, oh heck with it. I just want that sandwich.

  5. This looks incredible. I love the idea of caramel shrimp. Those rolls are perfection. I love that you make your own.

  6. Oh wow, these look fantastic - I love the sound of these. Pinning to try in due course!

  7. What a recipe! Panos is a huge fan of seafood sandwiches, so he's raving about this one!:) A small question in order to be sure: in step 1, "Add a pinch of salt and the fish sauce and the onion" you mean the fresh, green onion, right?

    1. Hi Mirella! It's the yellow onion. Thanks for noticing and I just made it clearer! The green onion is in step four. I hope you try this! Thanks so much!!

    2. Thanx so much for clarifying! xoxoxo

  8. Amazing caramel shrimp sandwich.. can't take my eyes off this pic..

  9. Banh mi, yet another example of a culinary project forever sitting on my list...

    I need another life in parallel to the one I'm living. That could help get some goals moving into reality!

    beautiful sandwich, Karen...

  10. I wish I had one of these sitting in front of me right now, they look so good!


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