Dueling Banh Mi: Chicken vs. Vegetarian

Sandwiches could easily be one of my favorite foods, and when sandwiches take on such amazing flavors that you crave that sandwich for weeks and weeks after having eaten it, well, that’s something special.  Banh Mi does exactly that.  It is so fresh, and is just perfection in every bite.  I credit this entirely to my love for the pickled carrots & daikon radish, I could put it on everything.  When I finished with these sandwiches, I chopped up the rest of my radishes, took the rest of the carrots,  and have a jar of each pickled in the fridge right now.

While you can substitute all different kinds of protein this sandwich, I am working on a budget here, so I like to buy a whole rotisserie chicken, and make multiple meals out of it – and this is far and away the best sandwich I have had with that rotisserie chicken!  Adding the meat into a sandwich is an obvious choice, and the banh mi brings in a whole different flavor profile that my other chicken meals just cannot compare with.  While the pork belly will probably always be my favorite, these two are a bit of a healthier alternative, and possibly a bit easier, because I just never seem to have pork belly just laying around the house, so I’ll need to keep going back to Commonwealth Cambridge when I have cravings for that.  Now for those of you who are on the “that’s too much bread for me” train…you could swap the bread out for a wrap, pita, or naan.

Pulled Chicken Banh Mi
(makes 2 sandwiches)

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FOR THE PICKLING:
1c. Carrots julienned (fancy way of saying buy the bag of matchstick carrots from the market)
1c. Daikon Radishes julienned (they don’t sell these all chopped up, but it doesn’t take long – make them into matchsticks too)
2T Rice Vinegar
1T Granulated Sugar
Pinch salt

1.5c. Roasted Chicken, pulled apart with fork.  (I like to keep the chicken simple – heat it up on a skillet with some fresh ground black pepper so the fresh flavors can really shine through with the cilantro and the pickled daikon & carrots)
3T+ Mayonnaise (depends on much spread you like on your sandwiches, but the flavor is bomb, so don’t skimp too much!)
1+T Sriracha (more or less depending on how spicy you want it!)
Handful fresh cilantro
2 6-inch Baguette rolls (I used wheat rolls)
Cucumber Slices – thin (optional)
Avocado Slices (optional)

To pickle the carrots & daikon – add vinegar, sugar and salt into a bowl, and stir until sugar has completely dissolved.  Toss in the carrots and daikon, and mix to coat.  Let stand for 15-20 min at room temp, tossing occasionally.  There may be extra leftover, but it is so good, you can put it on anything.

Mix Sriracha and Mayo together in a small bowl.

Slice bread in half, and lightly toast just till warmed and the crust is nice and crispy, but the bread is still soft.

Now, build your sandwich!

Spread the mayo on both sides of the bread, start with the chicken, then add the carrots & daikon, then add the rest of your ingredients, slice in half, and enjoy!
Spicy Vegetarian Banh Mi
(makes 2 sandwiches)

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The pickling is the same, so see the recipe above.

SPREAD:
2T Mayonnaise
2T Low fat plain yogurt
1T Lime Juice
¼ + t  Cayenne Pepper – obviously the more you use the hotter it will be – so taste as you go!

Other ingredients:
1 avocado – sliced
4-5 thin slices Cucumber per sandwich
Handful fresh cilantro
Thinly sliced jalapeno pepper (remove the seeds if you don’t want it too hot!)
1 Scallion, sliced thin lengthwise in 2 inch pieces

Mix up the mayo, toast the bread, and build the sandwich!  Adding whatever additional vegetarian sandwich toppings you like!  With a sandwich like this, I wouldn’t add too many competing flavors – the pickled carrots and daikon with the cilantro and heat from the peppers and mayo is such a great balance, that too much else can sometimes take away from the simplicity and deliciousness of the sandwich!

So which will it be?  Chicken or Vegetarian?

 

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