Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken Roll - Banh Mi
Moderate - You'll be right
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Watch me make this recipe on my YouTube channel here!
A Vietnamese lemongrass chicken marinade is part of every Vietnamese home cook's repertoire. Pan-fried or grilled, lemongrass chicken is versatile because it can be served on rice, with thin rice vermicelli noodles or my favourite way: in a banh mi (Vietnamese bread roll).
Chicken isn’t a banh mi filling that often enters the conversation, as there are so many popular banh mi options such as pork rolls and crispy pork rolls. However, there are many ways to prepare chicken for banh mi. Some like grilled chicken thighs that are slightly sweet and sticky but I prefer mine infused with the fragrance of lemongrass, garlic, chilli and fish sauce. It’s a flavour combination that not only works well with chicken but also beef (see my beef noodle salad), pork, lamb and tofu.
In this super simple recipe, the lemongrass chicken is pan fried to seal its juices, then dressed with fragrant spring onion oil, and encased in a crusty banh mi that’s prepared with a generous lining of rich and creamy French pate*. Top this off with pickled carrots, fresh cucumber and a few slices of hot red chilli, and you have a homemade banh mi that will impress the entire family.
If you love grabbing a banh mi from your local Vietnamese bakery, next time you are there ask for some plain Vietnamese rolls and head home to give my lemongrass chicken banh mi recipe a whirl to experience another side to this Vietnamese delicacy—you’ll be hooked!
*French tinned pate was something my grandpa regularly ate on freshly baked bread for breakfast, and is now one of my Vietnamese pantry essentials, so I can whip up a banh mi on any given day or night. You can purchase my favourite French pate here.
500-600g chicken thighs
½ teaspoon turmeric
2-3 lemongrass stalks (white part only), crushed then finely sliced, or 80g lemongrass paste
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 birds eye chillies, finely chopped (optional)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar (optional)
½ teaspoon Red Boat anchovy salt (optional)
2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil
3 carrots, grated or julienne
½ teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons sugar
50ml hot water
100ml cold water
150ml apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
Bread roll fillings
4 Vietnamese bread rolls
4 tablespoons spreadable butter/margarine
1 Lebanese cucumber cut into 4 slices lengthways
4 teaspoons Maggi seasoning or soy sauce
2 red chillies sliced (optional)
½ bunch coriander roughly chopped (optional)
½ bunch spring onions chopped
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
30ml cooking oil
In a medium sized bowl, mix the chicken and marinade ingredients until well combined. Allow to marinate for 5-10 mins. For best results, place in fridge and marinate overnight.
In the meantime, pickle the carrots. Mix the sea salt and sugar with hot water until dissolved. Then add vinegar, cold water and carrots. Set aside in fridge until ready to serve.
In a large pan, cast iron griddle pan or BBQ, add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and fry on medium heat for 5-6 mins each side or until just cooked through. Alternatively bake until golden by placing in a pre-heated oven at 220 C (fan-forced) for 18-20 mins, or in a pre-heated air fryer at 190 C for 12-14 mins. Allow chicken to rest for half the cooking time before slicing into 1cm slices.
While the chicken is resting, prepare the fragrant spring onion oil. In a small bowl, add spring onions, ½ teaspoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt and mix well. In a small saucepan or milk pan, bring 30ml cooking oil to smoking point then safely pour onto the spring onions and combine well.
To serve, on each roll spread ¼ can of liver pate and butter, add chicken slices, 1 slice cucumber, pickled carrots. Dress with 1-2 teaspoons of Maggi seasoning then garnish with coriander, chilli and spring onion oil.