The Saigon Special

Chicken Bánh Mi with Pickled Radishes and Herbs
I've always been mesmerized by foreign cultures and back in the early '90s when I was introduced toVietnamese food, it quickly became one of my favorite things to eat. New Orleans, along with the rest of the Gulf Coast, has a fairly large Vietnamese population; the coast, the weather and the opportunities to fish are very similar to Vietnam, so when the Vietnamese emigrated to the United States, it was a logical place to settle.

And, like so many other cultures that came to New Orleans, they brought a cuisine that fit in perfectly with the all the other cuisines. If you don't know about Vietnamese cuisine, you're missing out. Known for charbroiled, or grilled meats, seafood, fresh herbs, fresh vegetables, noodles and rice, the food is clean, fresh and satisfying. Another characteristic that's easily observed is the French influences, particularly in sandwiches which are served on French baguette. In fact, Bánh mi means bread, specifically, baguette, and a Bánh mi sandwich can be anything from pork to meatballs to paté to chicken to fish. Mr. B and I like to make ours with chicken thighs marinated in fish sauce, brown sugar and soy sauce and grilled to sticky perfection. Like any other recipe, I have to add my own touches, so I make these with pickled radishes, Sriracha mayo and plenty of cilantro, basil and mint.

Fire up the grill, pick up a baguette and make up a batch of these sandwiches. You won't regret it.

Chicken Bánh Mi with Pickled Radishes and Herbs

Chicken Thighs

6 Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/3 cup of fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes

1. Place chicken thighs in a zip bag.
2. In a small bowl, mix together fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and red pepper flakes; pour over chicken thighs.
3. Seal bag and refrigerate overnight.
4. When ready, grill thighs over high heat until caramelized and cooked through.

Pickled Radishes
 6-8 radishes, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 tablespoon boiling hot water
6-8 very thin slices of fresh jalapeño pepper
1/3 cup of seasoned rice vinegar

1. In a small bowl, place the sugar and jalapeño pepper; pour the boiling water in and stir to dissolve the sugar; let set 10 minutes.
2. Add the rice vinegar and radishes; stir.
3. Let the radishes 'pickle' for 20-30 minutes.

Sriracha Mayo

1/2 cup of mayo
1/3 cup of Sriracha
Lime zest, from one lime

1. Mix together; allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.

Bánh Mi

1 high quality, airy, French baguette
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 bunch of fresh mint, stemmed and finely chopped
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
20 leaves of fresh basil
2 handfuls of shredded carrots
Sliced, fresh jalapeño peppers
Pickled Radishes
Sriracha Mayo
Grilled chicken thighs

1. Cut baguette into lengths of six to eight inches each; slice each length in half horizontally.
2. Lightly toast baguette in a toaster oven or under the broiler.
3. To assemble, for each sandwich, spread the sriracha mayo on the bottom slice; top with basil leaves, chicken thighs, jalapeño slices, shredded carrots, pickled radishes, and a handful of cilantro; Spread a little sriracha mayo on the top piece of bread and top that with a few generous pinches of chopped fresh mint.
5. Repeat with remaining ingredients until all sandwiches are assembled; enjoy.

Comments

  1. Yes please!! Where is my dinner invitation! I love the combination of flavors in a bahn mi sandwich. I live in the "sticks" so other than a Chinese restaurant (that isn't that great) we don't have a lot of ethnic choices in restaurants.

    Next time I am in Chicago visiting my daughter, we need to hit up a Vietnamese restaurant! :D

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  2. Sigh. They closed the last Vietnamese restaurant in our parts just a few months ago; fear not, I've armed myself with plenty of ideas and I'm reading up on various dishes. Keep your eyes peeled because once summer hits, this blog will be an ethnic eats gold mine!

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