I believe it was in a previous recipe post that I crowned my mother the Queen of Sandwiches. Yes I did. It was here.
I’ve now decided to fly in on a dragon and challenge her for the crown. Sure, like Cersei before her I’m sure she’d stand there confidently with a glass of wine, however I am so confident in my dragon that I would be happy to duel on the bell’s ring.
My sandwich of choice in this bread battle, you ask? THE BANH MI.
I first had a Banh Mi in Las Vegas just outside of Caesar’s Palace. It was a Prawn Banh Mi and was served with some prawn crisps and a small pot of fish sauce. I’d never had one before but made a vow to myself I would order something I didn’t know how to pronounce by the end of the week.
I hit the floor.
A Banh Mi is essentially a Vietnamese baguette stuffed with meats, pate and pickled vegetables. It’s sensational.
It has this gutsy heart to it because the pate provides this round, earthy punch to it but it is totally countered by the sour pickled vegetables. But despite their picklage (not a word, it is one now) does not lose the crunch.
I knew I had to make it when I got back and I am so ashamed of myself that it’s taken me this long.
I have separated this recipe into the DAY BEFORE and the DAY OF. I feel no type of way about it. There is no harm is sandwich anticipation. Everyone often shuns a sandwich into just two pieces of bread and lunch meat of some description but I seldom eat sandwiches so when I do, I like to… no pun intended… make a meal out of it.
So yes there are a few steps and I’m sure if you had your own pickled vegetables, you could just use those but this here is my Banh Mi method and it’s the one I’ve chosen to battle for the throne against my mother with so if that doesn’t convince you, then no other stuffed bread will.
THE DAY BEFORE
Start by marinating your chicken. You could breast up, but I’m getting my thighs out. Throw your chicken cuts into a bowl. We’re about to create a sexy Vietnamese marinate (which also becomes our dipping sauce later) to this bowl add: a splash of soy sauce, a generous splash of fish sauce, a tablespoon of soft, dark brown sugar, a thumb sized piece of grated ginger (I used paste from a jar, don’t judge), two cloves of grated garlic, the juice of one lime, some black pepper, a big splash of vegetable oil and then a good, healthy squeeze of Sriracha sauce.
Smoosh up the chicken into the sauce, cover and chill.
For the pickled vegetables, you want to sterilise a jar first by washing it in some soapy water and then shoving it in an oven preheated to 100c for 10 minutes. Don’t burn your fingers when you take it out, I use tongs because I’m a whimp. Don’t touch the inside of the jar with your fingers… defeats the object of the sterilisation.
Now using a peeler, peel a chunk of cucumber and a chunk of carrot into ribbons. I say chunks of vegetables because you won’t need the whole thing. Save them for something else. Chuck your vegetable ribbons into the jar, careful not to touch the inside.
Now in a small saucepan, combine a cup of apple cider vinegar and a cup of water with a handful of black peppercorns and a few bay leaves. Bring this to a big bubble and drop it to a simmer for 10/15 minutes. Carefully pour this hot liquid into your sterilised jar of vegetable ribbons. Put the jar on the lid and leave it somewhere in the Kitchen until it cools completely and then throw it in the fridge.
Go to bed. You’ve marinated and pickled. You’re knackered and you know it.
THE DAY OF
Preheat the oven to 200c.
Take your marinating chicken and lay them on a baking sheet. Slip them in the oven for 40 minutes.
In this time, scrape your marinade into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Drop it to a gentle simmer and cook it for about 15 minutes, stirring now and then, reducing it down to a sticky sauce. Decant this into a small serving bowl.
Yes. You’re dipping your sandwich in this and it will be incredible.
Take your chicken out of the oven and allow it to cool a little while you assemble your sandwich.
Use a big, chunky baguette and slice it carefully down the middle. Spread each side with pate of your choice. Take your pickled vegetables from the fridge and lay them on top of the pate.
Take some fresh coriander and stuff them in where you can.
Grab the chicken cuts and slice the meat into shreds. If you’re using thighs as I did, you can just hack away with two forks and tear that meat from the bone. Stuff the meat in the sandwich.
Top with a little drizzle of the dipping sauce, some more coriander and a handful of sesame seeds if your patience permits.
Dunk into the sauce. Eat. Rejoice.
Go to war with the best sandwich maker your own.
Take the throne.