Beef Tenderloin Banh Mi with Pickled Watermelon Rind and Spicy Sesame Mayo

This American take on a Vietnamese classic pairs watermelon pickles, which are popular in the South, with beef tenderloin and a sesame mayonnaise.

Beef Tenderloin Banh Mi with Pickled Watermelon Rind and Spicy Sesame Mayo
Photo: © Ryan Liebe
Stand Time:
3 hrs
Refrigerate Time:
12 hrs
Active Time:
1 hr 10 mins
Total Time:
16 hrs 10 mins
4 servings

The pickles are gingery, sweet, and spicy — the perfect counterpart to mildly flavored meat. This sandwich is a fun alternative to a burger. 


  • 4 (3-ounce) beef tenderloin medallions

  • Canola oil, for brushing

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha, plus more for serving

  • 1 baguette, split lengthwise and cut into 4 pieces

  • 1 cup ginger-pickled watermelon rind, drained and cut into fine julienne strips

  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro

Pickled Watermelon Rind with Ginger and Jalapeños

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 1/4 pounds watermelon, red flesh and green skin removed, white rind cut into 1- by 1/2-inch rectangles about 1/8-inch thick

  • 1 (3-inch) piece of fresh ginger (about 1 1/2 ounces), peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise

  • 1 large jalapeno, halved lengthwise


Pickle the watermelon rind a day in advance

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the water with the vinegar, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.

  2. Layer the watermelon rind, ginger, and jalapeño in a 1-quart heatproof glass jar and cover with the pickling liquid. Let stand at room temperature for 3 hours. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Drain the pickles before serving.

Make the banh mi

  1. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the medallions with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat, turning once, until lightly charred on both sides and medium-rare within, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a work surface and let rest for 5 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon of Sriracha and season with salt and pepper. Brush the cut sides of the baguette with oil and grill over moderate heat until toasted, about 2 minutes.

  3. Slice the medallions 1/4-inch thick. Spread the sesame mayonnaise on the cut sides of the baguette and top with the meat, pickled watermelon rind and cilantro. Close the sandwiches and serve with additional Sriracha.

Make ahead

The pickles can be refrigerated in their brine for up to 2 weeks.

The cooked beef medallions and the sesame mayonnaise can be refrigerated overnight. Bring the meat to room temperature before making the sandwiches.

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