My friend Marnie introduced me to banh mi sandwiches, Vietnamese sandwiches with pickled daikon and carrot slivers, sliced cucumber, cilantro, sliced jalapeno peppers and your choice of protein. It’s hard to say what exactly makes them so delicious! The combination of sweet and pickled flavors, crunchy and soft textures–and they’re pretty to look at, too! We used to go to lunch at a local Vietnamese place and had a hard time choosing between the banh mi and the pho. Unfortunately, it closed and while there are other pho restaurants in town, we haven’t yet found a banh mi replacement.
I have made them before with leftover steak but this was the first time I specifically cooked meat, chicken in this case, to make banh mi. The motivator was a new cookbook, The Banh Mi Handbook: Recipes for Crazy-Delicious Vietnamese Sandwiches (Amazon link) by Andrea Nguyen. I started with her Hanoi Grilled Chicken. You could grill this and serve with rice for dinner, then use leftovers for sandwiches, of course. The flavor was fantastic!
I made her carrot and daikon pickles and a citrusy red cabbage pickle to put on the sandwiches while the chicken was marinating. I also bought Maggi sauce, which I’d never heard of before but found easily enough at Raley’s. And to thank my friend Marnie for the introduction to these sandwiches, I had her over for lunch and served these.
Nguyen has a specific order for making the sandwiches. Spread both sides of the roll with mayonnaise, then sprinkle on a bit of Maggi sauce on the bottom one. Add the thinly sliced meat, the pickles, peppers, cucumber and cilantro. You can read a bit about the history of the banh mi on Nguyen’s blog.
Hanoi Grilled Chicken from The Banh Mi Handbook
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon canola oil
- Trim the chicken thighs and flatten them out so that they are a fairly uniform thickness.
- Add the sugar, salt, pepper, fish sauce, lime juice and oil in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken thighs. Add the chicken and let marinate and spoon the marinade around so the chicken is coated. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for half an hour at room temperature.
- Grill over medium heat about 6-10 minutes total, turning a few times.
- Remove from the heat and let rest 10 minutes before slicing across the grain.
I love this cookbook and am already plotting what to make next. It’s either the Chinese barbecued pork or the grilled lemongrass pork I think.