Sandwiches are a common meal found all over the world. Traditionally a pork sandwich, this chicken banh mi is inspired from the Vietnam, stuffed with fresh vegetables and avocados.
Before Subway sandwiches hit it big, I was the sandwich queen. When I was a kid, I added oil and vinegar to sandwiches way before I ever walked into a real deli. My brother was my number one fan and always asked me to make him a sandwich when he saw I was making one for myself.
Nowadays, I’ve turned my back on my bread love affair and stick with boring high fiber or low-carb bread concoctions. But, I always have a secret desire for a big, cold sandy for lunch – especially during the hot summer months.
Why you’ve got to try this
Sandwiches come in all shapes and sizes, all over the world. In New Orleans we have the Po Boy. In France there’s the Croque Monsieur. Cubans have their pork cubano sandwiches. Italians have their torpedoes. And the Vietnamese have the Banh Mi.
The traditional banh mi is served on a baguette, similar to the French version, with pâté, mayonnaise, cilantro and hot peppers. I am not a pâté fan, so I stuck with chicken.
But this sandwich is not lacking in flavor. It is stuffed with cabbage, radishes, jalapeños and avocados. A squeeze of lime and a side of some spicy garlic mayonnaise and your taste buds will thank you.
If you don’t want to roast or grill up some chicken breast, you can use any leftover chicken and use that. No one will complain about your boring sandwiches ever again!
Ingredients you need
If you want to go all authentic, feel free to learn more about this delicious sandwich from Vietnam here at Viet World Kitchen, and meet Andrea Nguyen, who wrote a cookbook called, what else, The Banh Mi Handbook.
For my more California inspired banh mi, here are the essential ingredients you need:
- Chicken breast: I use boneless skinless chicken breast for my main meat. You can also use roasted pork shoulder or pork loin.
- Extra virgin olive oil: This is to cook the chicken breast. You can also use canola or any vegetable oil.
- Baguettes: The bread for this sandwich is not the hard French baguette but a more softer roll. It is elongated with a soft crust and fluffy interior.
- Cabbage: I used shredded green cabbage, but you could also use purple cabbage. Not a cabbage fan? You can also use shredded lettuce, like iceberg or romaine.
- Radishes: The slices of radish get tucked into the sandwich and give a nice peppery crunch.
- Jalapeño pepper: This is where the heat comes from, but feel free to omit it if you prefer spice.
- Avocado: This is what makes this the California banh mi. Slices of creamy avocado add a wonderful touch with all the other flavors and textures.
- Cilantro: Vietnamese food uses a lot of fresh herbs, which I’m a huge fan of. Not everyone is a fan of cilantro (gasp!) so you can omit it or use basil or parsley.
- Green onion: You could use regular onions or red onions, but I like the mild fresh taste of green onions.
- Spicy Mayo: You can buy store bought, but it’s so easy to make your own. Combine some mayonnaise, garlic powder and hot sauce and you’re golden! Again, if you don’t like it spicy, use regular or homemade mayonnaise.
- Mexican limes: To finish off your sandwich, you just need a squeeze of lime. You can use key limes, Mexican limes, regular limes or even lemons.
- Salt and pepper
How to make this sandwich
Just because it has a fancy name doesn’t mean it is a super complicated sandwich to make. If you already have cooked chicken, you are already halfway there!
1. Cook the chicken. Heat a grill pan or nonstick pan over medium high heat and add your oil. Season both sides of chicken breast with salt and pepper. When oil is hot add chicken breast and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
Flip chicken breasts over and brown other side. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking until done, about 10 more minutes. When chicken is done, remove from heat and let it rest.
2. Prepare the mayo. Whip together mayonnaise, garlic powder and hot sauce. Set aside.
3. Prep the bread. Cut baguettes in half length-wise and schmear both sides with your spicy mayonnaise. Serve the remaining mayonnaise on the side for those who want more. If you want to toast your bread first, go ahead and do so before adding the mayo.
4. Cut the chicken. Slice the chicken against the grain into strips.
5. Assemble the sandwich. Layer all the ingredients into your prepared baguette: shredded cabbage, radishes, jalapeño slices, chicken strips, avocado slices, cilantro and green onions. Serve with remainder of mayonnaise and limes.
Expert Tips and Recipe FAQS
This version of the banh mi sandwich includes all of my favorite flavors, but the jalapeño, cilantro and radishes are classic garnishings for this sandwich. Here are some tips to make your sandwich special.
- Bahn mi sandwiches are usually served with a delicious pickled daikon and carrots. It adds a nice sour component.
- Vietnamese markets have wonderful bakeries, because of the French influence over their country. If you can find one in your area, try their freshly baked baguettes for these sandwiches.
- Instead of chicken, we like to use leftover smoked pulled pork to make these banh mi sandwiches.
This classic street food is made with a softer baguette. So look for a softer crust than the hard baguettes you normally find at the bakery. Italian submarine rolls also work great, as well as kaiser rolls.
If you aren’t using pickled daikon and carrots, you can shred them and stuff them in your sandwich. You can also try slices of cucumber, avocado and your favorite chiles. For fresh herbs you can use basil, green onions, chives, or cilantro.
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breast
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp hot sauce
- 2 small baguettes
- ½ cup shredded green cabbage
- 2 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
- ½ avocado, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 green onion, sliced
- 2 Mexican limes, halved
- Wash chicken breasts and pat dry with paper towels.
- Season both sides of chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
- Heat a grill pan or nonstick pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil. When oil is hot, add chicken breast and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
- Flip chicken breasts over and brown other side. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking until done, about 10 more minutes.
- While chicken is cooking, prepare the mayonnaise by whipping together mayonnaise, garlic powder and hot sauce. Set aside.
- When chicken breasts are done cooking, remove from heat and let rest.
- Cut baguettes in half length-wise. Smear both sides of bread with 1 TBLS prepared mayonnaise. Serve the remaining mayonnaise on the side.
- Divide vegetables and start layering them inside the sandwiches in this order: cabbage, radishes, jalapeño.
- Cut chicken breasts into strips and place into the sandwiches.
- Top sandwiches with avocado, cilantro and green onion.
- Serve sandwiches with reserved mayonnaise and limes.
Cooking Tips: Toast your bread before preparing sandwiches, if you prefer.
Serving Size:1 sandwich
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1403Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 31gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 2548mgCarbohydrates: 183gFiber: 14gSugar: 18gProtein: 75g
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