One of the top joys of living in a city is the option to walk down the street and find amazing sandwiches. My current obsession is the Vietnamese sandwich, the Banh Mi. I enjoy them so much I need to start making them from home to cut back on the expense of going out.
It is no secret that purchasing goods from a grocery store and preparing the food yourself is less expensive than going to a restaurant. In my view, home cooking is also an achievement. You have unlocked a skillset in life that can make you very happy and save money in the end. Cooking allows you to sit back after the process, enjoy, pat yourself on the back and say “I did that.”
The bulk of this recipe is focused on the chicken marinade, which you can use to simply serve the chicken over rice or make skewers for a backyard party. Today I used the chicken to go inside a Banh mi sandwich, served with the accoutrements I prefer.
You can find Hoisin sauce at most supermarkets and the same goes for jalapeño, lime and cilantro. You will need to plan ahead for lemongrass, Asian bottled sauces, and the pickled carrot and daikon radish, but you can make the pickle at home if you like. Just make sure when storing it in your refrigerator you have a container with a good seal, or your fridge will start smelling of old radishes.
Banh mi baguette, this is a specialty item that can be found at some Vietnamese grocery stores or bakeries. But I have found a fresh “Italian” or “French” bread from a supermarket might come close, just be sure to toast the bread before serving so it is crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside.
I recommend using chicken thighs chopped into 1-inch pieces.
You will need to chop the lemongrass with a thick knife that is sharp because lemongrass is very woody. Trim the fibrous top and bottom, and sometimes peel the outer layer as it may have dirt hidden underneath. Then chop in small rings, otherwise even the strongest blender will not be able to puree.
Remove the paper from the shallot and garlic, then throw them into the blender whole. Then add chopped cilantro stems and all the chopped lemongrass rings.
To the blender, add soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and sugar.
Puree until smooth. Pour marinade over chicken and mix. Let chill for at least an hour or as long as overnight.
Heat up a wide sauté pan with some neutral oil, like grapeseed, avocado, or corn oil. Heat the oil until it is lightly smoking. Carefully add chicken and let sauté until completely cooked.
I like cooking my chicken thighs more than 165*F, dark meat doesn’t dry out as and becomes more tender at 185* F.
At this moment I do not dare tell you how you should make your sandwich, as I have a feeling you know what to do. All I recommend is that you add a fresh squeeze of lime juice and a big crumble of finishing salt on the chicken just before serving.
And finally, part of the aesthetic to the Banh mi that I love is the crunch of the bread, so before making the sandwich put your bread in a 350*F preheated oven for six minutes so that the bread is crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Inactive time: 1-24 hours for marinade
Total time: 2 hours (at minimum marinade time)
Sharp strong knife for lemongrass
Toaster/conventional oven for toasting bread
Stainless steel frying pan or pan with a smooth bottom
For the chicken:
3 pounds chicken thighs (cut in to 1-inch pieces)
2-3 stalks lemongrass, chopped small
2-inch knob of ginger, peeled and chopped
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 bunch of cilantro stems chopped small
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar or white vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons grapeseed or neutral flavored oil for sautéing
For the sandwich:
Bahn Mi Baguettes or other soft baguette bread, or rolls.
Pickled carrot and daikon radish
1/2 bunch cilantro, bottom stems removed
1 jalapeño, cut into thin slices
- Cut chicken thighs into 1-inch pieces and put in large bowl.
- Peel and chop lemongrass and ginger, put in blender.
- Peel shallot and garlic and put in blender.
- Chop cilantro stems into 1/4 inch pieces and put in blender.
- Add all liquid sauces: soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and sugar to the blender and puree.
- Pour marinade over chicken, toss on all sides and chill for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
- Heat a wide sauté pan with half of the grapeseed oil, heat oil on high until oil is hot, carefully add half of the chicken so as not to overcrowd the pan. Cook chicken in 2 batches at least.
- When chicken is cooked, put on a high sided plate and finish with fresh squeezed lime juice and finishing salt if you wish.
- Serve over rice, or inside a sandwich but be sure to toast your bread first.
If you are also trying to stay in this winter and want to cook more food from home, consider taking our virtual cooking classes where you don't even have to leave the house! We even have classes designed to replicate take out meals such as Virtual Thai Takeout at Home on Friday, March 3 at 6pm CST. You'll make:
- Pad Thai with Tofu
- Tom Kha Gai (Spicy Chicken and Coconut Milk Soup)