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From Cubans to Po Boys, Heroes to Hoagies, at the heart of any given cultural or geographical group, you're sure to find a signature sandwich. For Vietnamese communities across the world, that sandwich is a bánh mì. The edible embodiment of cultural fusion and decolonization, the sandwich harkens back to the period of French colonial rule in Vietnam. But despite the Western influence of the baguette, the Vietnamese version of sandwich has become a distinct and ubiquitous dish all its own.
An authentic bánh mì typically consists of Vietnamese cold-cut meats, pickled vegetables, chilis, a generous smearing of mayonnaise, and another French contribution, pâté. All stacked within a fluffy Vietnamese baguette roll. Although the sandwich was specifically designed to be portable and affordable for a populace fleeing their homes during a time of turmoil, these days, the traditional ingredients of a bánh mì can get a little pricey. Luckily, the sandwich's inherent practicality also makes it wonderfully versatile. If you're looking for a budget-friendly variation of the dish, you can simply swap out some of the more expensive ingredients, including the cold cuts and pâté, and opt instead for some affordable, but equally delicious, chicken thighs.
An Affordable Alternative With Authentic Flavor
Although chicken thighs aren't traditional for bánh mì, which are usually filled with slices of ham and pork, you can use this affordable alternative without sacrificing the signature, zesty flavors that Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches have become known for.
Just take it from Tasting Table recipe developer Susan Olayinka, who created a simple bánh mì recipe using chicken thighs, sans the expensive pâté spread and other meats. Her version of the sandwich still showcases the crispy pickled veggies soaked in rice wine vinegar, as well as a drizzle of traditional Maggi seasoning, which packs a savory, umami-rich punch sure to awaken your taste buds. The secret to Olayinka's bánh mì success also lies in the preparation of the chicken thighs. In order to capture some authentic Vietnamese flavor, she advises marinating the chicken in a blend of sesame oil, honey, hoisin sauce (for that kick of chili spice), and soy sauce before cooking.
Once your veggies are sufficiently pickled and your chicken thighs are cooked 'til juicy, you can start assembling your sandwich. (Olayinka suggests scooping out some of the bread's fluffy filling to allow more room for your pile of meat and vegetables, but that's up to you.) Simply spread some mayonnaise and Maggi seasoning along the interior of the baguette and start assembling your ingredients. You'll be left with a rich, hearty, and flavorful bánh mì sandwich that's as wallet-friendly as it is delicious.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.