From Noodle Bowls to Banh Mi Sandwiches

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

When I was a magazine food editor years ago, one timesaving strategy we promoted was what we called planned overs. Unlike leftovers, which could be an unexpected boon or curse, depending on how you felt about eating something twice, planned overs were exactly that: something you cooked more of, with a plan for using the remainder in a second meal.

Today, most home cooks can’t count on planned overs because few people seem to plan meals ahead of time these days. And even if you meticulously plan ahead, with everyone’s busy schedules, unforeseen things seem to happen to make the plans go awry.

I still occasionally cook something, with a plan to use the remainder in another meal:

  • Roast chicken thighs that give me enough leftovers for chicken salad sandwiches or a pasta casserole
  • Roast leg of lamb that becomes lamb couscous the next time around
  • Extra grilled steak to slice over greens for a main dish salad
  • A whole roast chicken that becomes the basis for soup the second round

Last week, I made some Grilled Lemongrass Chicken.  Instead of using the whole recipe as a main dish, I divided it in half, using half for a cold noodle bowl. The second half, I turned into banh mi sandwiches.

Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi
¼ cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup matchstick-cut carrots
½ cup matchstick-cut radishes or daikon
2 baguettes
4 Grilled Lemongrass Chicken thighs, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced English cucumber
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (optional)
Sprigs of cilantro, mint and/or Thai basil

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, sugar and salt. Add carrots and radishes, stir and set aside for 30 minutes or overnight, stirring once or twice.

Cut baguettes crosswise into 4 sandwich-size pieces, each about 6 inches long. (Save any leftover baguette in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze to make crostini or croutons another time.). Split each baguette piece lengthwise; remove some of the bread with your fingers to make a pocket for the filling; spread with mayonnaise.

On the bottom half of each sandwich, lay ¼ of the chicken, the drained carrot and radish mixture, the cucumber slices, the jalapeno, if using, and the herb sprigs, dividing equally. Cover with the top half.

Makes 4 servings

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Posted: Sep 24th by Sandy_Hu