I’ve replaced the typical bánh mì topping of pickled carrots and daikon radish with shaved Watermelon radishes and Scarlet Queen turnips crisped in an ice water bath. As a shortcut, you could use any kind of leftover meat you have on hand in place of the marinated chicken: Try roasted turkey, sliced pork loin or even grilled steak—just crisp it in a hot pan and toss with the nuoc cham dressing before piling into the bun. Feel free to add any other vegetable you like to the radishes—cucumbers and carrots are nice—or lose the bread altogether and toss the sandwich fillings and nuoc cham into a bowl of chilled rice noodles for a delicious and very radishy salad.
1 stalk lemongrass, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons cane sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons water
6–8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 clove garlic, grated
Pinch red chili flakes
½ cup water
1 large Watermelon radish
1 large Scarlet Queen turnip
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sriracha or other chili sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 scallions, minced
4 French sandwich rolls, split
Grilled chicken thighs, thinly sliced (see recipe above)
Nuoc cham (see recipe above)
1 cup cilantro leaves
1 jalapeño, very thinly sliced (seeds removed if you prefer less heat)
½ cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts
Combine all ingredients in a zip-top bag and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to overnight. When ready to cook, light a charcoal or gas grill or set a grill pan over high heat on the stovetop. Remove chicken from the marinade and pat dry. Grill on oiled grates until cooked through, 4-5 minutes per side, then set aside until ready to assemble the
Stir ingredients together and set aside.
When ready to assemble the sandwiches, use a mandoline or very sharp knife to shave the radish and turnip into paper-thin slices and soak in a bowl of ice water to crisp. Stir together the mayonnaise, chili sauce, garlic, sesame oil and scallions and spread on the cut sides of the bread. Divide the sliced chicken between the bottom halves of the rolls and drizzle each with 1 teaspoon nuoc cham. Top each with ¼ cup cilantro, a few slices of jalapeño and some chopped peanuts. Drain the radish and turnip slices and pat dry, then layer liberally onto the sandwiches. Close the bread and slice each sandwich in half on the bias and serve.
Sarah Blackburn is a home cook, recipe developer, soccer mom, Italophile and managing editor at Edible Boston. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.