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How to make banh mi

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.