In Vietnam, sandwiches are the equivalent to the NYC hot dog – they’re on every corner, they’re cheap and you don’t think about what’s in them because they taste so good! I didn’t crave hot dogs when I was in Vietnam, but I often find myself craving a Vietnamese sandwich every now and then.
The problem that I always run into when trying to find the perfect Vietnamese sandwich is that a good one is hard to come by (even in New York City). So I set out to make one myself. I quickly realized that the main ingredient in traditional Vietnamese sandwiches is pork paté. In some cases, there is pork and pork paté. I decided that not only did I want to make a Vietnamese sandwich that didn’t include paté, but a healthier version in general and replaced the protein with baked chicken. Now, it’s still a sandwich, so don’t expect this to be a diet recipe! I feel that I have really captured the essence of a classic Vietnamese sandwich, with less than half the fat!
Chicken Vietnamese Sandwich
Serving Size: 2
Time: 30-40 Minutes*
– baking sheet
– 1 large and 2 small mixing bowls*
– a cutting board
– a sharp knife
– 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
– 1 tsp red pepper flakes
– 2 tbs canola oil or vegetable oil
– juice of 1 lime
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 2 tsp salt
– 1 tbs sugar
– 1 carrot, julienned or grated
– 1 small piece of daikon, julienned or grated (optional)
– 1 cup hot water
– 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
– 1 cup rice vinegar
– 10 sprigs cilantro, washed and dried
– sriracha mayo** (sriracha + mayo)
– 1 baguette
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In the large mixing bowl, combine the canola oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, lime juice and 1 teaspoon of salt. Coat the chicken well in this mixture. *For more flavor, marinate the chicken over night in a large ziplock bag. Let the chicken sit in the marinade until the oven has preheated. Once the oven is ready, place the chicken breasts on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, pickle your carrots and daikon – if you’re using it. To do this, place your hot water (make sure its really hot) in the smaller mixing bowl. Add the salt and sugar and stir until it’s dissolved, then add the vinegar. Place the carrots and daikon into the pickling liquid and let it sit until you’re ready to put the sandwiches together.
To test the chicken for doneness before you remove it from the oven. Depending on the size of the chicken breasts they may need a few more minutes. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before you slice it. Once it’s rested, slice into ¼” slices.
Cut the baguette into two pieces about the length of your hand. Then, slice them open, leaving one side intact. Open the baguette and place them directly on the rack in the oven, face down. It’s ok if you turned your oven off, at this point it’s still hot enough to slightly toast your bread. While the bread is heating, mix your sriracha mayo. **I didn’t list specific amounts of sriracha and mayo in the ingredient list because when it comes to mayo, some people love it and some people hate it, so you can decide how much or how little you’d like to spread on your sandwich. I will suggest that you stick with a 1:3 ratio of sriracha to mayo, no matter what amount you make. Now the fun part – building the sandwich! Drain your pickles and squeeze and excess pickling liquid out of them.
First, place the sriracha mayo on both sides of the bread. Next put a layer of cucumbers on the bottom topped with a layer of the sliced chicken. Then, place a generous layer of pickles on top of the chicken and finally, garnish each sandwich with 5 sprigs of cilantro.
To make this process faster, you can cook the chicken the day before and serve this as a cold sandwich.