Hanoi Chicken Banh Mi

How to make banh mi

One of the most inventive parties I attended  in recent memory was a sunset hike and supper for a friend celebrating her 40th birthday last spring. She gathered all of her beloveds at the trailhead of a famously beautiful spot just over the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.

A Banh Mi Party

The party began at picnic tables abutting the parking lot where our hosts set out coolers of beer and bubbly. From there we hit the trail, one that wound through coastal brunch and ended at a black sand beach between two rocky cliffs. There, we huddled against the evening chill on a patchwork of picnic blankets while the birthday girl made the rounds. She carried with her an oversized backpack brimming with our supper: pork, chicken, and tofu banh mi sandwiches wrapped snug in paper and still warm. I’ve always loved banh mi, but somehow, that night, on that beach, with friends, and perhaps a tiny champagne high, they’d never tasted better.

Learn to Make Your Own

I’ve been jonesing to make authentic banh mi at home for myself ever since. Now, thanks to food writer Andrea Nguyen and her latest cookbook, The Banh Mi Handbook, I can. The book shares dozens of  inventive ideas for all the elements of the banh mi. I appreciate how she walks you through how to make your own rolls, offers recipes for homemade mayonnaise and sriracha aioli, and tempts you with the likes of Lemongrass Pork and Gingery Tofu Sliders (yes, please). But I also love that she isn’t a snob. She won’t make you feel guilty for buying a baguette at your local market (as I did) or using a store-bought rotisserie chicken if you have no time to do one up from scratch.

Below you’ll find a “how to” on making your own banh mi featuring two recipes from Andrea’s book: Hanoi Chicken and Daikon and Carrot Pickle. The combo earned rave reviews with my crew when I made them for a weeknight supper, and I’m quite sure they’d be equally welcome if you did, as my friend did, and served them at your next, fabulous banh mi birthday party.

How to make banh mi
4 from 2 votes

Hanoi Grilled Chicken Banh Mi

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.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 6
Author Katie Morford


Grilled Chicken

  • pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • ¼ heaping teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil

Daikon and Carrot Pickle

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
  • 1 pound daikons, each no larger than 2 inches in diameter, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water


  • 2 French baguettes
  • 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 dozen thin slices of English cucumber
  • 1 small jalapeno, thinly sliced (optional for those who like spicy food)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro



  1. 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.
  2. 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 marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Daikon and Carrot Pickle

  1. Place the carrot and daikons in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt and 2 teaspoons of the sugar. Use your hands to knead the vegetables for about 3 minutes, expelling the water from them. They will soften and liquid will pool at the bottom of the bowl. Stop kneading when you can bend a piece of daikon so that the ends touch but the daikon does not break. The vegetables should have lost about one-fourth of their volume. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water, then press gently to expel extra water. Return the vegetables to the bowl if you plan to eat them soon, or transfer them to a 1-quart jar for longer storage.

  2. To make the brine, in a bowl, combine the 1/2 cup sugar, the vinegar, and the water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour over the vegetables. The brine should cover the vegetables. Let the vegetables marinate in the brine for at least 1 hour before eating. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

Sandwich Assembly

  1. Cut baguettes into six 6-inch pieces. Slice the rolls in half, but not all the way through so one side of top and bottom remain attached. If the bread is soft, crisp it slightly in a toaster. 

  2. Spread 1 to 2 teaspoons of mayonnaise on each roll. Pile the chicken into the rolls, followed by a small pile of the Daikon Carrot Pickle (you will not use up all the pickle), cucumber slices, optional jalapeno slices, and a few sprigs of fresh cilantro. 

Recipes and photos reprinted with permission from The Banh Mi Handbook: Recipes for Crazy-Delicious Vietnamese Sandwiches (Ten Speed Press, 2014) by Andrea Nguyen. Photos by Paige Green.



09.29.2014 at10:27 AM #

Jane McKay

Can’t wait to try this, looks delicious and right up my street this month!

09.29.2014 at10:27 AM #

Katie Morford

Exactly. I love the sandwich series you are doing on Zen!

09.29.2014 at10:38 AM #

Liz - Meal Makeover Mom

Wow. I’m coming over for lunch! Welcome to the RR sharing board on Facebook. It’s an awesome community! Pinning your recipe NOW!!

09.29.2014 at10:38 AM #

Katie Morford

Thanks Liz. I’m excited.

09.29.2014 at11:57 AM #


Love this whole post!!!!!

09.29.2014 at11:57 AM #

Katie Morford

You were the inspiration, Lady.

09.29.2014 at12:57 PM #

Meme ~ Living Well Kitchen

Katie, this looks INCREDIBLE! The grilled chicken alone sounds yummy but all together… I can only imagine! Pinning 🙂

09.29.2014 at12:57 PM #

Katie Morford

It is pretty delicious…and those pickled veggies MAKE the sandwich.

10.06.2014 at5:10 PM #

athletic avocado

yum! This looks so good!

03.07.2015 at7:24 AM #


I’m slightly obsessed with Banh Mi sandwiches as well! We had shop around the corner that sold Grilled Salmon Banh Mi that were ridiculously good. It used to be my treat when I had a productive day of work and I was so sad when they closed. I’m planning on buying the Handbook so I can make them myself now…and thinking that a hiking party with champagne sounds like a pretty fabulous way to celebrate my summer birthday! Great idea, thanks for sharing 🙂

03.07.2015 at7:24 AM #

Katie Morford

Hi Heidi,

Love the Banh Mi Handbook. It’s very charming and inspiring and it has so many creative riffs on the basic banh mi. I just threw a little dinner party featuring a diy banh mi bar and it was a real hit.

04.17.2015 at9:53 PM #


This is incredibly delicious and fun to make with the kids.

My rather fussy watching three year old asked if we can ‘always have this everyday please Mummy’ that is an enormous feat. I added loads of fresh chilli to mine, yummo, we have a new family rotation now, big thank you!

04.17.2015 at9:53 PM #

Katie Morford

Music to my ears! A favorite in our house too and great for a casual dinner party. Thanks for the comment.

03.21.2020 at3:41 PM #


Lovely recipe, we made this today, grilled the chicken on a proper coal BBQ, delicious! My husband and son don’t like coriander, they substituted mint, which worked surprisingly well.
I am only puzzled why the chicken ingredients and method comes before the pickle ingredients and method. It would be helpful to have the order of the recipe turned round to reflect the actual curing times. Many thanks for the yummy recipe!

03.21.2020 at3:41 PM #

Katie Morford

Glad you like it. The recipe comes to me by way of my friend Andrea Nguyen, so I can speak to the order of the recipe, but starting with the pickle makes good sense to me!

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