A little while ago I posted a recipe for tofu banh mi wraps, which were quite delicious. On Halloween I ate a lemongrass chicken banh mi from a place that my friend John loves in the West End of Vancouver. It was so tasty that I knew I had to feed John’s addiction for these things by making them for him at my house. So I found this recipe on thedilettantechef, and I love the flavour. Marinating the chicken overnight really infuses it with the lemongrass and other flavours. It is topped it off with some homemade pickled daikon & carrots, cilantro, Thai basil, cucumbers and optional jalapeño, and you’ve got the best sandwich ever.
I’m a bit of a sandwich snob – if I’m going to eat bread it has to be fresh and awesome, and if I’m going to eat a sandwich it has to be made on the spot, and have interesting flavours. Plus it has to contain a reasonable amount of fresh vegetables. No pre-made, plastic-wrapped sandwiches for this princess! This one passes my guidelines easily.
Be careful of the jalapeño – sometimes they are hotter than other times, so you might want to go easy on them if you don’t love them really hot. The jalapeños I bought for this one were so hot that our mouths and lips were on fire, and it took away from the flavour and enjoyment a bit.
For a later, gluten-free version, I used rice paper wraps to make up some sandwiches – loved that too!
What you need for the chicken:
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts(~2 lbs)
- 2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 red Thai chili pepper, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- a few teaspoons peanut or canola oil for frying
What you need for the pickled carrot and daikon:
- 1 large julienned carrot
- 1 cup julienned daikon (optional)
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
- a large pinch of salt
- a large pinch of red chili flakes
What you need for the sandwich:
- a fresh crusty baguette
- Thai basil (if you absolutely can’t find it you can substitute fresh mint)
- cucumber, thinly sliced
- soy sauce
- Sriracha sauce
- jalapeño slices
What you do:
- The day before you want to make these sandwiches, or at the very least 3-4 hours before, prepare the marinade for the chicken. Cut each chicken breast or thigh into about 3 pieces. Place each piece between a sheet of parchment paper and pound it until it is about 2cm thick. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a sealable container and coat the chicken with the sauce. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
- You can also make the pickled carrot and daikon ahead of time. It needs at least a few hours to pickle the vegetables. Combine all the ingredients in a jar, put the lid on it and shake it up a bit, then refrigerate. If the liquid doesn’t quite cover the vegetables, make up a little more of it.
- To prepare to build the sandwiches, get the toppings ready. Chop the cilantro and Thai basil, and slice the cucumbers and jalapeño pepper. Add a little bit of Sriracha sauce to the mayonnaise and stir it up. Have the soy sauce and pickled veg on hand, and slice the baguette open hotdog style. I like to let people make their own sandwich, so I just lay all the ingredients out on a platter.
- To prepare the chicken, heat a heavy frying pan on medium high and add a little bit of the peanut or canola oil. When it is hot add some of the chicken, not crowding the pan. Fry until the first side gets some dark colour, just a few minutes, then flip it and fry the other side until cooked through.
- To serve, sprinkle a little soy sauce on the inside of the bread (you might remove a little bit of bread from the inside before doing this), and spread on a little bit of Sriracha mayo. Add the chicken and some of each of the toppings as you desire, and enjoy immediately.