There is nothing not to like about this salad. For starters, it’s a meaty, spicy, non-wimpy salad — if you like Sriracha and you have a Weber, you are obliged to like this. Second, it’s a lightning fast recipe — fast enough if you have to cook the chicken, even faster if you use leftover chicken from these Bánh Mì sammiches. Because the dressing is basically fish sauce and lime juice, it’s crazy low fat. And the modification and customization possibilities are endless. You can add all sorts of other veggies and play around the heat factor by adjusting the Sriracha.
This started as a bun cha recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. And it’s not technically correct to call it a Bánh Mì salad, since the name “Bánh Mì” comes from name of the roll. We started with bun cha — grilled meat spiced with some amount of pepper and fish sauce, served over noodles with mixed veggies. The hybridization came from upping the fish sauce and adding Sriracha to the meat, then mixing in some left-over pickled carrots and daikon from yesterday’s sammiches. And, in typical haole tradition, we just used plain old spaghetti (albeit “think spaghetti, according to the box) instead of rice vermicelli.
4 + 5 Tbs fish sauce
2 + 5 Tbs sugar
1-2 Tbs Sriracha, more as the chef determines to be necessary
juice of half a lime + ¼ cup lime juice
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
3-4 chicken breasts, each sliced into 2 or 3 long strips
⅓ cup lime juice
4 Tbs water
½ lb rice vermicelli or spaghetti
¼ cup sesame seeds
4 cups romaine, chopped into bite-size pieces
Other veggies (the exact mix is optional — use what you have)
left over pickled carrots and daikon
red peppers (fresh, grilled, or roasted)
mint and/or cilantro leaves
Combine 4 Tbs fish sauce, 2 Tbs sugar, garlic, juice of half a lime, and pepper in a small bowl and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add a squirt of Sriracha if you want and mix again. Pour over the chicken and stir to coat.
In another small bowl or salad dressing jar, mix 5 Tbs fish sauce, 5 Tbs sugar, ⅓ cup lime juice, 5 Tbs water, and (optional again) a squirt of Sriracha. Shake until the sugar has dissolved.
Cook the spaghetti or vermicelli according to its directions. When the noodles are done, drain and return to the pot, discarding the water. Move the pot off the heat and add the sesame seeds, stirring to evenly coat the noodles.
At the same time, grill the chicken, then slice into bite-size chunks.
In serving bowls, divide the lettuce, bean sprouts, mint and cilantro. Top with noodles, then the other veggies, and then the grilled chicken. Optional: sprinkle with peanuts or sesame seeds. Spoon or drizzle the fish sauce mixture over the salad.