Yes, the chicken has to be cooked so this recipe isn’t just about assembling a sandwich. And before the chicken can be cooked, it has to marinate for a sufficient amount of time to make sure that even the innermost portions of the meat are properly seasoned.
In relation to marinating, what does “sufficient amount of time” mean? The length of the marinating time depends on the cut of chicken you use and the thickness of the meat. Using bone-in chicken? Marinating time will be shorter if you use fillets. BUT.
Here’s a big but. Since you don’t need to do any additional work while the chicken marinates anyway, why not opt for bone-inch chicken with a longer marinating time? The meat of bone-in chicken, especially bone-in thighs, is so delectably moist after air-frying. It’s just hard to replicate that when using fillets.
But I know that time is valuable too, so, in the end, it really is your choice whether to go bone-in or boneless.
Now, the marinade for the chicken.
It’s the same marinade I use when cooking lemongrass pork — a mixture of minced garlic and lemongrass, grated shallot, ground black pepper, brown sugar, and equal amounts of light soy sauce, fish sauce and coconut oil.
Marinate the chicken for a few hours or overnight depending on the thickness of the meat. Air fry at 180C. For how long again depends on the thickness of the meat and whether you’re cooking bone-in or boneless chicken.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and cool for about five minutes to allow the juices to settle into the meat. Using two forks, break up the meat into chunks. Oh, please do not shred the chicken. That’s the fastest way to lose its natural juices which you want to seep into the bread instead of getting left behind on the cutting board.
Then, you assemble your lemongrass chicken banh mi.
Have all your condiments ready.
These are the traditional condiments for Saigonese banh mi. Up north in Hanoi, there are less. But since we like Saigonese banh mi more, we add all the things that make it so good. Liver pate, mayo, pickled carrot and radish, chili and lime salt, chili sauce, cucumber, cilantro and liquid seasoning. Maggi is preferred in Vietnam but we like Knorr better here at home. NOT a sponsored post.
Ideally, the pickled carrot and radish should be prepared several hours or even a day ahead and kept in the fridge to allow the vegetables to soak up the flavors of the pickling solution. Prep it before you mix the chicken with the marinade ingredients so that they can all soak in the fridge at the same time.
So, toast your baguette, split, and spread mayo and liver pate on either side. Then, make a bed of cucumber on one half of the bread.
Pile your air fried lemongrass chicken on top of the cucumbers, top the chicken with pickled carrot and radish, then add chili and lime salt, and drizzle seasoning and chili sauce. Finish off with cilantro and it’s ready to be enjoyed.
Air fried lemongrass chicken banh mi
- Air fryer
Pickled carrot and radish
- ½ cup julienned radish
- ½ cup julienned carrot
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 500 grams bone-in chicken thighs
- 3 cloves garlic - peeled and minced
- 1 shallot - peeled and grated
- 2 stalks lemongrass - minced (peel the outer layers and use only the lower portion of the stalks)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 mini baguettes
- 2 tablespoons mayo
- 2 tablespoons liver pate - (canned liver spread is okay)
- ½ cup julienned cucumber
- chili lime salt - (see notes after the recipe)
- liquid seasoning - Maggi is the default
- chili sauce - we use Sriracha
Make the pickled carrot and radish
- Place the carrot and radish in a jar.
- Stir together the rice vinegar, sugar and salt with a quarter cup of water until the sugar and salt are fully dissolved.
- Taste the vinegar-sugar sugar mixture. If you prefer a sweeter pickling solution, stir in more sugar.
- Pour the pickling solution into the jar with the carrot and radish.
Marinate the chicken
- Wipe the chicken with paper towels to remove surface moisture.
- Place the chicken in a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients for the marinade and mix well.
- Transfer the chicken with the marinade to a container, cover thightly and marinate in the fridge overnight.
Air fry the lemongrass chicken
- Arrange the chicken in the air fryer basket skin side up in a single layer.
- Set the air fryer to 180C and cook the chicken for 20 minutes.
- Flip the chicken thighs over and cook at 180C for another 15 minutes.
Assemble your chicken banh mi
- Use two forks to separate chunks of chicken meat from the bones.
- Toast the baguettes and split vertically.
- Spread mayo on half of the bread and liver pate on the other half.
- Scatter the julienned cucumber on the bottom half of the baguette.
- Pile the chicken on top of the cucumber.
- Top the chicken with the pickled carrot and radish.
- Sprinkle chili lime salt, and drizzle seasoning and chili sauce over the filling.
- Top with cilantro.
- Bring the two halves of the baguettes together and serve.