Brilliant foods are often simple foods. I had this tangy-salty grilled chicken at a Hanoi cafe in 2003 and was struck by its bright flavor. So much so that I replicated it upon returning to the States. It’s great with rice but is perfectly at home stuffed into baguette. When possible, grill it over an open flame for a nice charred flavor. The heavy dose of black pepper lends an edge to this chicken.
Hanoi Grilled Chicken Banh Mi
- 1½ lb (675 g) boneless skinless chicken thighs
- ¼ tsp sugar brimming
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- About 1½ Tbsp canola oil
Trim and discard big fat pads from the chicken thighs. If the thighs are large and/or super uneven in thickness, butterfly them. Set aside.
In a bowl, stir together the sugar, salt, pepper, fish sauce, and lime juice. If needed, tweak the flavor to get a slightly tart-sweet, salty finish. Add the oil, then the chicken, coating the pieces well. Cover with plastic wrap and mari- nate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
To grill the chicken, preheat a gas grill to medium or prepare a medium-hot fire, or use a stove-top grill pan heated over medium-high heat with a little oil brushed on.
Cook the chicken for 6 to 10 minutes, turning several times, until clear juices flow out when you pierce the flesh with the tip of a knife. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting across the grain. Tumble in the cooking juices to include extra flavor in the sandwich.
Keep leftovers for up to 3 days, warming the chicken in the microwave oven or skillet over medium heat, adding any cooking juices for depth.
When to flip the chicken
After putting a chicken thigh on a hot grill or pan, let it sear undisturbed. When there is an opaque border of about 1/4 inch (6 mm), flip the chicken. it should release easily and have nice browning on the underside. the second side will cook in less time, and you can turn it as you like.
Serves makes enough for 6 banh mi .
About the Author
Reprinted with permission from The Banh Mi Handbook by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.