A couple of weeks ago when I was at the lunch with Kitchensurfing, I had an open-faced, spicy chicken salad sandwich as the main part of the meal. I was so inspired by this dish that I decided to try to re-create it at home, adding a few extra things that bring it closer to what I really like in a classic Banh Mi. This combination really grabbed my tastebuds for a few reasons. One of them, I think, is I’ve been increasingly drawn to more Asian-influenced tangy-spicy-fresh flavors lately, especially with this summer’s lingering hot spells. Another might have been that this was just a great way to bring together a bunch of different textures, ones that vary from what I usually fix for myself.
Spicy Chicken Salad Banh Mi Sandwich
Prep Time: under 30 minutes if you use already-cooked chicken
Serving Size: 4 sandwiches
1/3 c. Mayonnaise
1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp. Sriracha
2 c. shredded Chicken (if you poach it yourself, add 30 minutes to the prep time for this recipe)
1/2 Lime, juiced
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 oz. Country Pâté cut into strips or slices (I used the one from Brooklyn Cured)
1/4 c. Pickled Carrots and Radishes (see below*)
1 Cucumber, peeled in long strips with no seeds
20-30 Cilantro leaves
Assembly: If you decide to poach the chicken, rather than using leftovers or buying it ready made, you can follow the directions here, and start off by preparing the chicken, as it will need to cool while you prepare the other ingredients. You’ll use 1/2 of the chicken for this recipe. If you already have cooked, shredded chicken on hand, start off by making the spicy mayonnaise.
Add 1 tsp. of the Sriracha to the mayonnaise and then mix them together. Taste to see if it is your desired spiciness level, remembering that some of the heat will be diminished when it the mayonnaise is combined with the chicken. Add each additional tsp. until the mayonnaise is as spicy as you’d like it to be. Mine reached a sort of light pumpkin color, which was at about the 4 tsp. point.
For the Spicy Chicken Salad, place the chicken in a bowl. Pour over the lime juice and add the salt and cilantro to the chicken. Toss gently to combine the ingredients. Then, add about 1/3 c. of the spicy mayonnaise, leaving some to spread on the sandwiches. Fold the mayonnaise into the seasoned chicken. Taste. Add more salt and a touch more lime juice, if desired. The flavors should be creamy, with a hint of heat, and a lift of freshness from the citrus and the cilantro.
Cut the bread in half and toast each side. Spread some of the spicy mayonnaise on each half of the toasted bread, and place the strips of pâté on the bottom half of the bread. Pile 1/4 of the spicy chicken salad on top of the pâté.
Place a nice-sized pile of the pickled carrots and radishes on top of the chicken. Put the sliced cucumber on top half of the bread and sprinkle several whole cilantro leaves on top that. Put both halves together for the complete sandwich. This bread also holds up well when the sandwich is prepared a bit in advance and kept wrapped in the refrigerator, which makes it ideal for packed lunches or picnics.
*Kitchen Witch Tip:
I took the long way with this recipe, poaching the chicken myself and making the mayonnaise from scratch. I also pickled the carrots and radishes about 24 hours in advance of making this dish.
After looking around on line, I just whipped up a quick pickling solution, put it in a jar, added the vegetables, and let it sit in the fridge.
I’m sure that it isn’t entirely the exact right way to make this, but the finished results were a slightly crunchy, tangy product that added some other spice notes and texture to the final sandwich.
Pickled Carrots and Radishes
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus overnight to sit in refrigerator
3 Radishes (preferably Daikon, but here I used what I had, which were the red ones)
4-5 Allspice Berries
10 Black Peppercorns
10-12 Coriander Seeds
1 Star Anise
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Salt
1/4 c. Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2-3/4 c. boiling Water
Slice radishes into long, thin strips about 1/4 cm wide. Peel the carrots and cut them in the same size. In a glass jar with a tight lid, combine the spices with the sugar and salt. Pour over the boiling water and then add the vinegar. Stir to mix together and to make sure that the sugar and salt have dissolved completely. Put the carrots and the radishes into the liquid and seal the jar tightly. Let the jar cool for 10-15 minutes before placing it in the refrigerator to sit at least overnight. This mixture should be consumed within a week, as it is not meant to be kept for long-term preservation.