Chicken breast is marinated in a salty, sweet and tangy sauce and then grilled to perfection before stuffing it into sandwich rolls with pickled carrot, cucumber and radish in this adaptation of the classic Vietnamese banh mi sandwich.
If you've never had a banh mi sandwich before you are truly missing out!
My first experience with banh mi was back in high school. A friend of mine used to bring in these cute little sandwiches for lunch that he picked up at an Asian grocer. I was hooked at my first bite! The seasoned meat, pickled carrots and fresh cilantro, stems and all, were such a great flavour combination and I had never had anything like that in a sandwich before.
A traditional banh mi sandwich consists of a nice roll packed with pickled veggies, pork, pate, cilantro and often sliced hot peppers. This grilled chicken banh mi is more of a throwback to the basic grocery store version I first encountered - I don't use pate here, and I've held off on the hot stuff. It's totally family friendly, and something even picky eaters will enjoy!
Why you'll love these!
- Full of flavour! From the umami packed marinade to the homemade pickled carrots this sandwich is packed full of fresh flavour. Add in the crisp fresh veggies and cilantro and we're really rocking!
- Quick & easy - Both the marinade and the pickled carrots come together quite quickly. All that's left to do is a quick grill and then put the sandwiches together.
- Chicken. I used boneless skinless chicken breasts, but you could use thighs here too if you prefer dark meat! Just make sure to cook until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh is 165ºF.
- Garlic. As always, fresh is best!
- Soy sauce. Can also be substituted for tamari if you like.
- Hoisin sauce. You should be able to find this at your local Asian grocer or in the international foods section of your supermarket.
- Fish sauce. You will find this in the same places as the hoisin sauce. It brings a tangy umami flavour to the marinade and there isn't much of a substitute.
- Green onion - in a pinch, a bit of any chopped onion will do, but for the best flavour choose green onion.
- Cilantro - the whole thing, leaves and stems.
- Radish - these are completely optional, but I really enjoy the texture and flavour they bring to the sandwich.
- Cucumber - and kind will do!
- Carrot - for pickling. You could do a mix of carrot and daikon as well, for a more authentic flavour.
- Sub rolls - any sandwich roll that is soft on the inside and a bit crisp on the outside will work nicely.
- Seasoned rice vinegar - You can substitute this for regular rice vinegar with a touch of sugar - see the recipe card for details!
How to make it
Quick pickle the carrots. Peel the carrots and slice them into matchsticks about 3 inches long and then place the carrot matchsticks in a mason jar. In a small bowl mix the boiling water, rice vinegar, and salt together then stir to dissolve the salt. Pour the pickling mixture over the carrots, then close the mason jar and refrigerate for about an hour.
Prepare the marinade. Mix together the soy sauce hoisin sauce, fish sauce, green onion and garlic in a bowl to make the marinade.
Marinate the chicken. Slice the chicken in half lengthwise to make two thin breast halves from each piece of chicken. Add the chicken to a container with a lid and then toss with the marinade until all the pieces are covered well. Close the container and let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or even overnight.
Grill the chicken. Heat your BBQ or grill pan to medium heat, then grill the chicken pieces for about 3-4 minutes per side before removing it from the grill to let it rest for a couple of minutes before slicing.
Build your sandwich. Line the bottom of a bun with cucumber then top with a pile of sliced chicken, followed by a few sprigs of cilantro and a handful of pickled carrots. Spread the top of the bun with mayonnaise then dig in!
Yes! In fact, pickled carrots are best when made the day before, and the same goes for marinating the chicken - the longer it marinates, the better it tastes.
Yes! This marinade works on anything! Try chicken thighs, pork tenderloin or even steak!
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Grilled Chicken Banh Mi
- 4 chicken breasts, halved lengthwise - about 2 lbs
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 4 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
- 3 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 green onion - diced
- 6 baguette rolls
- handful cilantro
- 1 cucumber - sliced
- 6 radish - sliced
- 1 large carrot - cut into matchsticks
- 1⁄2 cup boiling hot water
- 1⁄2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Combine the hot water, rice vinegar, salt and sugar and stir until dissolved then pour over the carrots to make the pickles. Refridgerate for an hour to cool.
- Mix the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, garlic and green onion to make the marinade.
- Slice the chicken in half lengthwise then cover well with the marinade and refrigerate for at least 30 mins (and up to overnight) to let the flavours sink in.
- Cut the carrot into matchsticks about 3 inches long and place in a mason jar.
- Heat your BBQ or grill pan to medium heat and grill the chicken 3-4 minutes on each side, then remove from the grill and let let rest a couple of minutes before slicing into strips.
- Slice the rolls and stuff with the cucumber slices, radish slices, chicken slices and whole stalks of cilantro. Spread mayo across the top of the bun and enjoy!
* nutritional information is calculated by online tools and may not be 100% accurate.
Made this for lunch today and it was fantastic - the pickled carrots added such great flavour and texture too!
Really tasty, satisfying, & filling!
Just finished this for dinner. My husband’s response “That was a really good sandwich.” and he’s not much of a sandwich guy either. My toddler enjoyed it too. Was filling and served with chips. Had chicken marinating for >day and same with the pickled carrots.