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Chef Geoff Bragg grilling up lemongrass chicken to include in his Banh Mi sandwiches.

Chef Geoff Bragg grilling up lemongrass chicken to include in his Banh Mi sandwiches.

If you found your way to the 7th Street Public Market in Charlotte mid-January, you probably noticed the amazing smells emanating from the cooking demonstrations going on. Chef Geoff Bragg was behind those delicious — and healthy — culinary flourishes. Today we’re sharing one of the recipes he cooked up: Vietnamese Banh Mi.

Banh Mi

These sandwiches are a true crowd pleaser. Unlike most sandwiches, the focus is not the meat, but the vegetables and fresh herbs. Those are the true common denominators of all banh mi regardless of which protein they are filled with. Common fillings range from grilled chicken to pate to shrimp or even pork skins.

For our recipe we are going to be using a marinated lemon grass chicken. This is one of the pantry marinades that finds its way onto a multitude of Vietnamese dishes.

The sweet and tangy pickled vegetables not only serve as a natural digestive aid but also provide the most quintessential facet of what makes banh mi what it is. It makes a quick and healthy lunch, they pack well and are a perfect departure from everyday sandwiches that adventurous palettes of all ages can enjoy.

For four sandwiches you’ll need:

  • 2 good crusty baguette (you can use whole grain)
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh jalapeño, shaved

And…

Pickled Daikon and Carrots

  • 1 c julienne carrots
  • 1 c julienne daikon
  • ½ c white vinegar
  • ½ T salt
  • ½ T sugar

Put carrots and daikon in a small mixing bowl. Combine vinegar salt and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat just until sugar and salt dissolve. Pour over carrots and daikon tossing to ensure complete coverage. Let sit for at least one hour before using.

Sriracha Aioli (optional)

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 T sriracha
  • 1 T water
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ c vegetable oil

In a small mixing bowl combine the egg yolk, sriracha, water and salt. Whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in oil while whisking vigorously to create an emulsification. Once your desired consistency is achieved taste again for salt and sriracha.

Lemongrass Chicken

  • 12 oz chicken breast, butterflied if necessary
  • 3 T minced lemongrass
  • 3 T sugar
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 1 T ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced.
  • 3 T sesame oil
  • 1 T thick soy sauce

Combine all ingredients for the marinade. Pour over chicken and let sit for one hour. Chicken can be pan-roasted to finish or, preferably, grilled. When the chicken is cooked allow it to rest a few minutes before you shave it.

To construct the Banh Mi, slice the baguettes in half then lengthwise across the middle. Heat the bread, slightly open, in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes. When the bread comes out spread a little of the sriracha aioli on the bottom. Divide the chicken between the four loaves. Put some fresh cilantro, shaved jalapeno and a good helping of pickled vegetable in each. Enjoy!

[Top image: Shutterstock]

Geoff Bragg

About Geoff Bragg

Geoffrey Bragg was born on Fort Rucker in Alabama to an Army major raised in Tampa and his Vietnamese wife. Needless to say, the blend of cultures created an interesting culinary dichotomy Geoff feels was extremely influential to his cooking today. He was raised in Charlotte and has always considered himself a product of the South. With an extensive resume, from vegetarian restaurants to gastropubs, Geoff is currently working as a personal chef with a focus on culinary instruction. He is excited to be back in the city he calls home, close to family and friends and working on a project he feels will help to shape Charlotte’s already explosive culinary scene.