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Food: Try making a different kind of sandwich for lunch (recipe)

CHICKEN BANH MI

You can make the crunchy, marinated carrot topping for this traditional sandwich ahead of time and store it in an air-tight container. If daikon radish isn’t available, use 1/4 cup peeled and shredded radish as a substitute.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup carrots, peeled and shredded

1/2 cup daikon or red radish, peeled and shredded

2 teaspoons sugar or sugar substitute

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 1/2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise

2 1/2 tablespoons low-fat plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3/4 teaspoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 pound cooked chicken, shredded

3 (12-inch) baguettes, halved lengthwise

18 thin slices of cucumber

3 scallions, thinly sliced lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 kiwi, thinly sliced, optional

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. Place carrot, radish, sugar, salt and vinegar in a small bowl; stir to combine. Let marinate while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

3. Place cilantro, mayonnaise, yogurt, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice and Sriracha or the cayenne in a medium bowl; stir to combine. Add the cooked, shredded chicken; toss to coat.

4. Cut each baguette horizontally in half and place in the oven to toast until tops are golden brown. Spread mayo on each half, if using. Using a slotted spoon, divide the carrot mixture among the baguettes (discard vinegar). Top with chicken, cucumber, scallions and the kiwi slices, if desired.

5. Press on tops. Cut each baguette into two 6-inch sandwiches. Serves 6.

A sandwich is the perfect way to enjoy a simple, yet filling meal on a hot summer day. If your taste buds are tired of traditional sandwich fare, it’s time to explore other cultures. A modern Vietnamese banh mi sandwich is a delicious melding of Asian spices and ingredients encased in a French baguette.

The original components of the banh mi (pronounced BUN-mee), a generic term used to describe food made with flour, were introduced to Saigon by the French in the early 20th century. A traditional French-style banh mi consisted of buttered baguettes that the locals called banh tay (literally, “foreign cake”), and ham or pate.

By 1945, “Tay” had been dropped in favor of “Mi” to become Banh Mi, which literally means “bread made from wheat.” The change signaled that bread had been fully accepted as Vietnamese cuisine. This was significant because rice had long been the staple food. The introduction of banh mi heralded a new phase in the culinary sensibilities of the Vietnamese people.



In time, the banh mi took on a decidedly Asian flare. After French rule ceased in 1954, the Vietnamese started to include their own ingredients, condiments and garnishments. Butter was replaced with a kind of mayonnaise, while pickled vegetables and fresh chilies were added to enhance the flavor. Thinly cut pork, chicken and beef were preferred to ham, and spicier condiments such as pickled vegetables also were added.

The emergence of street vendors also heralded the reintroduction of banh mi as a food staple for the masses. Many vendors combined Eastern and Western influences such as the use of canned French butter, fresh mayonnaise, cucumber and pickles, and a variety of meats including sardines, shredded chicken, grilled pork patties, barbequed meatballs, fried eggs and bean curd.



Banh mi, along with its unique variations, migrated to America along with the Vietnamese families who fled the war in the 1960s and ‘70s. They combined the traditional banh mi with ingredients from their new home.

Today, a variety of banh mi sandwiches are available from barbequed pork to vegetarian tofu versions topped with marinated vegetables, spicy chili sauce, soy sauce and mayonnaise, and encased in a warm baguette or a flour tortilla.

If a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich isn’t sold in your area, you can make them at home using this wonderful recipe for Chicken Banh Mi. It’s a great for using leftover grilled, smoked or barbequed chicken, or a rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store.


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