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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chicken Banh Mi-style Sandwich

This started out with the purpose of being entered into a burger cooking competition, it morphed as the process got on. Initially, I started out with the rough concept of making a large chicken sausage fattie, which would then be smoked and added to a sandwich. I also decided to go with some home made bread, largely because I didn't happen to buy some bread.

Step one was to marinate some chicken. This started with some aromatics, consisting of green garlic, ginger, green onions, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaf, bay leaf and cilantro. This was added and slightly muddled with 1/8 cup of my usual Red Boat fish sauce, 1/8 cup soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of sesame seed oil. This was allowed to marinate for 8 hours, then chopped and lightly processed in a food processor to create a chunky mix for making into a sausage.

Step two was to julienne up some carrots, daikon and salt them down. Then a thorough rinse and a dunk in a pickling solution of 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons Red Boat fish sauce and 1 tablespoon each of Bragg's Amino and Tamari. Then I added 1 teaspoon of smoked salt and one of sugar. This is essentially a quick sugar pickle. A Persian cucumber was also sliced into 6 spears, then dunked into a similar pickle, minus the fish sauce and adding another 1/2 teaspoon sugar sauce and 1/8 cup cider vinegar. Here is a shot of the finished pickles in place.
And the rolls, specifically, a mix of bread dough and whole wheat dough, given around a 60% hydration and two rises under warm conditions, then formed and one final bench rise. Into the oven along with some water to create a little steam and a spritz onto the dough to encourage a crackling thin crust.
I ended up cooking the chicken and some pork sausage in a slow poach, instead of the grill. The aroma when processing convinced me that a more delicate and neutral cooking method was called for. Hence, wrapping the meat into heat resistant plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and into a poaching bath at 170F for two hours. I ended up with pale but incredibly aromatic loaves of chicken and prok, resembling terrine in texture. Tender and extremely moist with a lovely perfume and delicate flavors that develop throughout the palate.
The final assembly involved a citrus and wasabi mayonnaise and a light olive oil toasting to refresh the breads crunch. One layer of the chicken and one layer of the pork and some vegetables slopped on top, this made for an incredible sandwich. One of those simple pleasures with both delicate texture and great depth of flavor. Even the flavors of the pickled vegetables really played nicely with each contributing to the balance of the sandwich.
As you can see, the texture was somewhat coarse, what I was hoping for was a rougher texture while still getting a loaf out of the meat. The poaching, I believe was the correct method to tease out the maximum flavor from the aromatics. This was quite successful.

Chicken Marinade
2 stalks green garlic, chopped
1" length of ginger, roughly 1.5 tablespoons
3 stalks green onions. chopped
1 lemon grass, just the tender center stalk
kaffir lime leaf, 2 or 3
bay leaf, 2 or 3
roughly 1/8 cup cilantro
1/8 cup Red Boat fish sauce
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sesame seed oil

I like to muddle the ingredients for the marinade lightly just to get everything bruised. Then add the marinade to what amounted to 1.5 lbs of chicken.

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