As soon as I saw the Lemongrass Chicken Bánh Mì recipe in Emeril's Kicked-Up Sandwiches: Stacked with Flavor, I knew our family would hold a Bánh Mì Showdown. I had originally planned to make my own Vietnamese style poboy. We headed to Eden Center this weekend, so I just picked up some from the local Vietnamese cafe.
If you're not familiar with bánh mì, it's a classic Vietnamese sandwich. The proteins vary, but each banh mi has the following ingredients: french baguette, slices of cucumbers, pickled vegetables, jalepenos, mayo, and cilantro. Common proteins included Vietnamese charcuterie meats, pate, grilled pork or beef, tofu, and pork belly (my fave).
Emeril's Lemongrass Chicken Bánh Mì: I've never had a banh mi with chicken in it, but the recipe looked good. The recipe called for the chicken to marinate in a paste of lemongrass, garlic, brown sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce. The chicken made our apartment very fragrant as it baked. Emeril also included a quick pickled carrots recipe. (If you consider an hour quick).
Local Vietnamese Cafe's Grilled Pork Bánh Mì: Sliced grilled pork, cucumbers, cilantro, jalapenos, and pickled carrots and daikon. I'm not sure the exact seasoning/marinade on the pork. All of the bánh mì shops hold their recipes close to the vest. The baguette I used for Emeril's recipe is from the same cafe.
On its own the lemongrass chicken tasted great. However, its flavor wasn't strong enough to stand up to the crusty bread and pickled carrots. I drizzled some soy sauce in my banh mi to help it out a bit. The carrots were a bit too sour. There wasn't a good balance of salty, sweet, and sour in the lemongrass chicken sandwich.
The banh mi from the local Vietnamese joint had a better balance of salty, sweet, and sour. Hubby declared the pork banh mi the winner.
The kids loved the lemongrass chicken on its own. As my daughter declared, "It's yummy. It's grassy. It's lemony." I also made Vietnamese bun for dinner and suggested that we added the lemongrass chicken as the protein for the noodle dish. Here, the chicken had a chance to stand out more.
I would definitely make the lemongrass chicken again, but not in banh mi form. Probably with a side of rice.
Want to have your own banh mi showdown? Grab a copy of Emeril's Kicked-Up Sandwiches: Stacked with Flavor and give it a go!
As a Serious Sandwich blogger, I received a copy of the cookbook plus a couple of supplies. All opinions are my own. Affiliate links are included in this post. All opinions are my own.
Bánh Mì Showdown: Emeril versus Local Vietnamese Cafe
Thien-Kim aka Kim