Mini Banh Mi Sandwich
Mini Banh Mi sandwich with lemongrass marinated chicken, carrots and daikon served with a French mini baguette, cucumber, spiced mayonnaise, and fresh cilantro will blow your whole family’s mind! The perfect summer lunch by the pool!
Mini Banh Mi Sandwich is great for BBQ season; it does need a little preparation time, though the chicken is lemongrass marinated and the carrots and daikon in a sweet and sour marinade. This sandwich is my favourite, if not my top 3, certainly! This Vietnamese sandwich was created in Indochine times when the French occupied Vietnam. That’s why the baguette bread is used, but the rest is all Vietnam flavours! A trendy dish on the streets of Vietnam, you can make the recipe with tofu, shrimp, pork, etc.
The Lemongrass Chicken
This chicken is marinated in a lovely aromatic lemongrass sweet and sour marinade, making it perfect for the grill! I’ve used chicken breast for this recipe for a faster marinating time, but if you want to do it in authentic Vietnamese, take the upper chicken leg meat. The marinade left on the meat makes this irresistible caramelized crust to your chicken, simply divine stuff! Lemongrass chicken is a dish on its own and can also be served with rice vermicelli or rice.
The lemongrass stick preparation is pretty easy; I usually unfreeze the sticks I need an hour ahead, then cut the ends and outer layer and keep the more tender bit in the center. This is where all the aroma and tenderness are. I blend the sticks with everything so the flavours merge quickly into the chicken.
The Carrot-Daikon Salad
Carrots, we all know, but daikon is not as popular for Westerners. It does look like a massive big white carrot and tastes like a radish, although softer. You’ll find daikon in an Asian Store. As for the cutting of the veggies, I’ve used a simple cheese grater, but it’s slightly nicer and a tad bigger; if you have a mandoline or spiralizer, go ahead with that. You want a little crunch on your veggies! The marinade to pickle the carrot and daikon is a sweet and sour base. I used honey and warmed it in the microwave for 15 seconds to incorporate it into the vinegar and water. You could also use simple white sugar; if you are a fancy Canadian, maple syrup would do great, too! Before adding to the sandwich, discard the marinade.
Some people like some extra spicy on their Banh Mi. You can always add a tad of Thai peppers, but the chicken already got a bit of heat, and the mayonnaise used should be a Sriracha Mayonnaise or mildly spiced mayonnaise. If you want to make your own, check this recipe from The Recipe Critic here or buy it in any Asian Store or Online. If it’s for the kids, I use regular mayo for the younger sensible palates.
The Fish Sauce Matters
Yes! This little detail matters! Although, if you already have some in the pantry, there is no need to get a new bottle, but if you don’t! I highly recommend the Vietnamese-type Nuoc Mam, made solely with actual fish, salt and water and nothing else. Other types can contain glutamates, preservatives, enhancers or sometimes not even include fish but squid. The flavour is distinct from country to country and goes a long way for this little detail, so if you cook Vietnamese, try to get your hands on the Vietnamese version!
At first, people are always slightly put off by its name: fish sauce. But don’t fear it; it won’t taste like old fish; it’s the ‘soy sauce’ of Vietnamese. In other words, their salt in a bottle. Omnipresent in Vietnamese cuisine, I believe it’s the magic ingredient of Vietnam!
Other Summer Dishes
- 4 chicken breasts cut into thin slices
- 2 lemongrass sticks Cut edges and outer layers. Use only the white center tender.
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 shallot or 1/2 onion
- 1 Thai chilli pepper without seeds
- 2 tbsp fish sauce (Nuoc Mam)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp water
- black pepper
The Carrot-Daikon Marinade
- 2 cups carrots shredded with mandoline
- 2 cups daikon shredded with mandoline
- 100 ml rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 50 ml water
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (Nuoc Mam)
- 12 mini baguette bread 10cm long (4 inches)
- fresh cilantro
- 1 cucumber
- sriracha mayo or plain mayo
- Start by marinating the chicken, adding all the marinade ingredients to a blender, blending, and putting on the chicken. Let marinade in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 12 hours (minimum 3 hours).
- Make the marinade of the carrot-daikon by warming up the honey in the vinegar-water base in the microwave or stove gently, just until homogenous. Add to the shredded carrot and daikon and cover in an airtight container. Let marinade for again up to 12 hours (minimum of 3 hours).
- Cook the chicken strips on the BBQ, grill or non-stick pan on each side at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until caramelized.
- Assemble the sandwiched with mini baguettes, Sriracha mayo, cucumber, carrot-daikon salad, lemongrass chicken, and fresh cilantro.