Bánh Mì Showdown: Emeril versus Local Vietnamese Cafe

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).

The Contenders: 

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.

The Verdict:

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. 

Other notes: 

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.
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