Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi Sandwiches

 Just like style, there are food trends.  And Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches are hip right now.  I wish I could pull the "yeah I've known about these forever, they're nothing new because I'm so knowledgeable of all things cultural and culinary..." card, but I can't.  I can, however, claim that Vietnamese food has been my favorite for a long while now, and I am super stoked that it is finally receiving the media it deserves.  Banh Mi are an approachable medium for Vietnamese food to take- I mean who doesn't love a sandwich?  I also appreciate that there are so many varieties to choose from, and no real wrong way to go about creating your own banh mi.  That being said, some ways just taste better, like this way :)

What you need:
  • Light, crusty baguettes
    • Avoid sourdough, ciabatta will suffice, but if you can- get the real deal from the Asian market. 
  • Cilantro
  • Thai basil or Mint
    • "When developing Thai-style recipes, we've run tests to see if Thai basil can be replaced with the much more available sweet (Italian) basil. The answer in all cases is a resounding no; these herbs have very different flavors. Thai basil, which can be identified by its purple stem, has a stronger flavor and aroma--we detected hints of licorice, cinnamon, and mint. If you can't find Thai basil in your supermarket, we recommend substituting mint, not sweet basil." -CooksIllustrated
  • Mayonnaise (my dinner guests unanimously agreed they liked the spicy mayo the best)
  • English cucumbe, sliced thin
  • Pickled carrot & daikon
  • Lemongrass chicken (see recipe below)
    • Other meat can be used- some recipes say just to use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store (BLASPHEMY.  only to be honest, I caved and did that because I ran out of the good lemongrass chicken and have absurd amounts of pickled daikon, Thai basil, and spicy mayo leftover and zero time to cook.  It really wasn't bad- drizzled a "savory" [whatever that means...] chicken with some soy sauce and put together the sandwich as usual.  It wasn't nearly as delicious as making my own chicken, but certainly satisfactory considering the minimal effort.)
 Now, there really isn't much to compiling your sandwich- add as much or as little of each ingredient, and chow down :)

Flavorful Lemongrass Chicken
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thights (~2 lbs)
  • 3 Stalks Lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Thai Chilies, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Fish sauce
  • 1 Tbs  Vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp Soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 tsp Sesame oil 
  1. Clean chicken thighs, and trim each into 3-4 pieces.  Using a meat mallet, pound to a uniform thickness, approximately 3/4 inch thick. 
  2. In a large ziplock bag, or storage container with a lid, combine the rest of the ingredients, and mix well.  Marinate the chicken in bag for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
  3. Heat some peanut or vegetable oil in a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Cook chicken pieces until grill marks have developed and juices run clear, around 5 minutes the first side and 3 the second.
 Yields enough for 8-10 sandwiches.

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