Chicken Bahn Mi with Quick-Pickled Cucumber

We pickle garden cucumbers in this recipe because their longer shape is perfect for making ribbons to pile atop the chicken in this iconic Vietnamese sandwich.
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Serves: 4
Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Total time: 2 1/2 to 5 hours (includes marinating and pickling)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 4-oz skinless chicken breast cutlets, pounded 1/3-inch thick
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar (TIP: If unavailable, white vinegar may be substituted.)
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, plus additional to taste
  • 2 garden cucumbers, peeled and shredded into long ribbons
  • 1/2 cup peeled and shredded carrots
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 whole-wheat baguette, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into 4 4-inch pieces
  • 3 tbsp low-fat olive oil mayonnaise
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, sliced (TIP: Seed the jalapeños for less heat, if desired.)

MARINADE

  • 4 stalks lemongrass
  • 1/2 large yellow or white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp raw honey

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Prepare marinade: Trim all but lower 5 inches from each lemongrass stalk. Trim off tough root ends and peel away tough outer layers. Thinly slice remaining tender white core. (NOTE: If it still feels fibrous and difficult to slice, either trim more from root end or remove additional outer layer.) Add lemongrass to food processor with all remaining marinade ingredients. Purée until smooth.
  2. Pour marinade into a heavy-duty zip-top bag. Add chicken, seal and shake well. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours, shaking once or twice. Bring to room temperature before cooking, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl or baking dish, stir together both vinegars, 1/2 cup water, honey and 1/4 tsp salt until honey dissolves. Add cucumbers and carrots. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, 30 minutes to 4 hours.
  4. Preheat broiler to high and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Shake excess marinade off chicken and place chicken on sheet. Season both sides with salt and black pepper. Broil chicken 8 to 10 inches from heat until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip over and repeat on opposite side until cooked through, 3 to 5 more minutes.
  5. Split each baguette piece (don't cut all the way through) and spread mayonnaise onto bottom halves, dividing evenly. Top with shallots, mint, cilantro, jalapeños and chicken, dividing evenly. Drain cucumber mixture in a fine-mesh sieve and place over chicken, dividing evenly. Close sandwiches and serve immediately.

Nutrients per sandwich: Calories: 303, Total Fat: 6 g, Sat. Fat: 1 g, Carbs: 30 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugars: 13 g, Protein: 28 g, Sodium: 422 mg, Cholesterol: 69 mg

Nutritional Bonus: Because they are composed largely of water, cucumbers are a satisfying way to stay hydrated on hot days. Consequently, they're quite low in calories (just 16 per cup), but not lacking in nutrients. Cukes help build strong bones, courtesy of vitamins C and K. If you choose the unwaxed English variety, you can eat the peel: it contains silica, a mineral that is important for healthy skin, tendons and ligaments.

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