vietnamese chicken sandwich (bánh mì)
Our recent visit to the Golborne and Portobello food stalls has got us so excited about London’s street-side grub we’re already planning our next outing, and if all goes to plan we’ll be hitting Whitecross Street Food Market tomorrow. We’ve also set our sights on Borough, Broadway, Exmouth and Greenwich Markets, as well as Brick Lane where I heard there’s a pretty good Bánh Mì (Vietnamese baguette sandwich) stall. Obviously it’s going take us a while to eat our way across London, so to tide us over I thought I’d recreate some street fare at home. I found a Chicken Bánh Mì recipe on epicurious that looked promising, so decided to give it a go. It was relatively easy to put together and came out well – the five-spiced chicken set off nicely by the sharp pickles. Not being a massive fan of coriander and raw onions I left those out, and replaced the sliced chilli with a smidgen of green chilli paste (it’s powerful stuff!) B’s mum had brought over for us from Mauritius. Probably not as good as the ones found along the streets of Saigon, but still a mighty satisfying lunch for two.
Vietnamese Chicken Sandwiches (Bánh Mì)
(adapted from a Bon Appétit recipe)
serves 2 generously
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
pinch of salt
1 cup carrot, julienned
1 cup daikon, julienned
3 skinless chicken thigh fillets
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp five-spice powder
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 star anise
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
1 green chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
fresh coriander, roughly chopped (optional)
Combine the rice vinegar, sugar (1/4 cup) and salt and stir until dissolved. Marinate the carrots and daikon in the liquid for 2-3 hours, then drain and keep refrigerated until needed (the pickled vegetables will keep, covered and chilled, for up to 5 days.
In a large bowl mix the shallot, garlic, star anise, five-spice, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce and remaining sugar with the the chicken thighs. Toss to coat well, then leave to marinate for at least an hour (at room temperature), or overnight (in the fridge).
Heat an oiled griddle pan on a medium heat and grill the chicken for about 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through. If the meat starts to burn (the sugar in the marinade will inevitably cause it to char) then turn your heat down a touch. Remove from heat and leave to rest for a minute, then slice into 2cm wide strips.
While the chicken is cooking warm your bread in the oven. Slice the baguette in half, then split it again lengthwise.
When you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches, open up the baguette and spread liberally with mayonnaise. Top the bottom halves of bread with chicken slices, followed by a large handful of pickled vegetables and shredded cucumber. Scatter over the red onion, sliced chilli and coriander if desired.
Pop on the top of the baguette, squeeze firmly together with your fingers and eat immediately.