Halfway between the South of France and Bangkok, we deliver this most amazing sandwich
Do you want Asian or French? Why choose? Here’s the best of both in an insanely delicious sandwich
I’m in Los Angeles, just about smack in between Bangkok and Bordeaux. And I love Asian food as much as a long afternoon on a breezy Parisian boulevard enjoying paté and cornichons.
The two cuisines have intersected in the past. The famous French pot au feu (pot of stuff on a fire, loosely translated) is in fact insanely popular in Thailand, where they call their version (wait for it, wait for it):
Yes, the origin of Pho is pot au feu.
But let’s not stew over that stew, we have a crazy good sandwich to make. And nothing says love, kindness, and simple times than a delicious sandwich.
Anatomy of a sandwich
Let’s look at the parts. First, to add some metaphorical bite to your bite, we do a quick pickle of julienned carrots. Bright in flavor and color, they add a crunch to the tender chicken. We do a cilantro fusion pesto to slather on top. More bite there, and herbs with garlic (what’s not to love?). The addition of fish sauce and lime brings that pesto right to the waterways of Bangkok lined with street vendors and fire pits crackling in the bottom of docked boats. Yes, please.
It all comes together on a fresh, perfect baguette (a critical element). And the flavors to join all these elements include mayo and pork liver paté, which adds further French accents. Which are sexy.
3 cups julienned carrots
2 cups white vinegar
2 halved Serrano peppers
In your EuroCAST Dutch oven, add the vinegar and Serrano peppers and bring them to a boil.
Let that gently boil for three minutes.
Remove the Dutch oven from the heat, cover with its glass lid and let steep for 25 minutes.
Get a well-cleaned container that you can close tightly with a lid. Add the julienned carrots to the container and pour the vinegar/pepper liquid into the container until full. Use the tight fitting lid to close the container and let come to room temperature.
Use up to a week. These are delicious on any number of things … so you could make more if you fall in love with this.
Cilantro fusion pesto
You know what they say: Springtime means fusion pesto. (That bumper sticker is mine, all mine.)
This is one of those food processor sauces that goes in by the fistful, so adjust the bunches and pinches to your tastes.
1 bunch basil
1 bunch cilantro
4-6 cloves garlic peeled
5 spring onions trimmed
1 Serrano pepper trimmed
1 handful salted, smoked almonds
1 pinch of salt
Juice and zest from two limes
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
1-1/4 cup great olive oil
Blitz it all in a food processor. Taste and adjust to your desired yumminess.
Just as you can use the pickled carrots in a thousand different waFiys, this pesto is your new friend.
Slather it on toasted baguette with goats cheese and pickled carrots, or grilled shrimp and rice noodles.
Or, as we do below, spread it on chicken cutlets coated in amazing herbs and spices and fried crisp to add more dimension to our delicious sandwich.
Fried chicken cutlets
You can use breast fillets, or breast tenders,...or go my route and hit the boneless skinless thighs.
Either way you gotta flatten these babies so the cooking is quick and even.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
To flatten the chicken, place it between two pieces of parchment and give a good whack or two, or three or four, with the flat side of a mallet until even. This helps make sure the chicken is cooked evenly.
When the chicken is flat, remove the top sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle the spiced flour mixture on each side of the chicken, about 1 Tablespoon on each side for each piece of chicken.
In your largest EuroCAST skillet, cover the bottom with peanut oil, about 1/2 cup.
Using medium heat, bring the oil up to 165F (check the temperature with a good food thermometer). Add the chicken carefully, letting it slide into the oil as you lay it in away from you. The oil should cover just about half of the chicken.
Fry the cutlet until the side in the oil browned, 3-4 minutes. Turn over the chicken with tongs to fry the other side until cooked through, another 3-4 minutes.
Remove the chicken to a rack to drain. You want them crispy, not oily when they go on the sandwich.
And now … the sandwich
All the elements above can be done a little (or a lot) before you make the sandwiches, although I do like my cutlets still warm. But certainly the carrots and fusion pesto are make-aheads. Life should be easy, don’t we agree? So make ahead.
Start with a very fresh, top-quality baguette (do not skimp), split lengthwise and divided up to accommodate the number of sandwiches you’re making
Slather the bottom slice with your best mayo
Layer on some freshly washed cilantro
Add some sliced red onion (slivers or slices, to taste) and cleaned spring onions - some layered onion bit with a hint of crunchy juice
Place the chicken on the sandwich
Slather a good pork liver paté on top of the chicken (just say oui)
Pickled jalapeños to taste on top of that
Close up the sandwich with the top of the baguette