Vietnamese Grilled Chicken Sandwiches
For the pickled carrots:
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/3-inch thickness
1 1/2 tsp. Chinese five spice powder
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. fish sauce
4 deli rolls, split in half lengthwise
2 radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 jalapeño, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
To make the pickled carrots, in a heatproof bowl, combine the carrots and onion. In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil. Pour over the carrot mixture and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain before using. You will need 1 cup of the carrots for the sandwiches. Refrigerate the rest for another use; they will keep for up to 3 weeks.
Sprinkle the chicken breasts with the five spice powder. Let stand for 15 minutes.
Preheat an electric panini press on the “sear” setting. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with 1 Tbs. of the oil. Place on the panini press, close the lid and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut each breast in half crosswise. Adjust the press to the “panini” setting.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 Tbs. oil, the lime juice, soy sauce, sugar and fish sauce. Brush the cut sides of the rolls with the mixture. Place 1 chicken piece on the bottom half of each roll. Layer the pickled carrots, radishes, cucumber and jalapeño on top, then cover with the top half of the rolls.
Place 2 sandwiches on the panini press and close the lid. Cook until the bread is crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board. Repeat to cook the remaining 2 sandwiches. Tuck the cilantro sprigs inside the sandwiches, cut in half and serve immediately. Serves 4.