Vietnamese Bánh Mì-Style Rice Bowls
A healthy, easy rice bowl inspired by the famed Vietnamese sandwich, topped with mouthwatering lemongrass chicken and crisp veggies, and served with a Sriracha-mayo dipping sauce.
Brown rice bowls check all the boxes for me, especially on busy weeknights. They’re simple, hearty, easy to prepare and help me squeeze in some extra grains. And if you make extra, they reheat well and make great leftovers.
So goes the story of this rice bowl’s creation. I was looking for a way to use up the delicious Vietnamese lemongrass chicken I had made (recipe here) and had a hankering for a bánh mì — a Vietnamese sandwich made with French baguette, slathered with mayo and stuffed with cilantro and crunchy pickled veggies, cucumbers, and jalapeño. It takes me back to college, when I used to pick up one of these on the regular from a campus eatery near the library at least once per week.
As much as I love chomping into a warm bánh mì, I have a weird thing against making sandwiches for dinner. They just feel too lunch-y to me. So on this particular day, I opted for a bánh mì-inspired rice bowl, topped with pickled carrots, scallions, cilantro, lime juice and red jalapeños for a pop of color. I love a healthy squeeze of Sriracha on my bánh mì, so I served it up with a side of Sriracha-mayo.
My favorite way to eat brown rice is tossed in sesame oil and kosher salt. It is a major upgrade that might make you hate brown rice a little bit less. Or, dare I say, might you actually learn to like it?!
As with all rice bowls, the recipe is super flexible. Use whatever toppings you want. You could even swap out the protein for something other than Vietnamese lemongrass chicken, but I’m not sure why you’d want to. Seriously, I get heart eyes every time I see this stuff on a menu. I’ve written all about my lemongrass chicken obsession here, but in summary, it is an incredible recipe because it is a perfect blend of umami, salty and sweet flavors. It is citrusy and bright, but not overwhelming. Smooth and heavenly, and well worth the preparation.
(Want to know more about the bánh mì? Read a great summary here at Vietnamese food blog Hungry Huy.)
Vietnamese Bánh Mì-Style Rice Bowls
- 1 pound chicken tenders
- 3 stalks lemongrass
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 inch ginger peeled
- 1/2 white or spring onion
- 3 tbs brown sugar
- 1 limes juiced
- 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
- 2.5 tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 1.5 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 cup brown rice, rinsed clean
- 1 cup water
- 3 tbsp. sesame oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 red jalapeño, finely sliced
- 3 scallions, sliced
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 carrot, pickled make quick pickles by cutting carrots into sticks and letting sit overnight in jar of 1 cup rice vinegar, 1 cup water and 2 tbsp. white sugar
- 1 lime, halved
- 3 tbsp. Sriracha
- 3 tbsp. mayor
- Marinate chicken: Combine all ingredients but chicken into a food processor and process until fully combined. Marinate chicken for at least an hour, preferable overnight.
- Cook the rice and water in a rice cooker, or boil in a covered pot on the stove, over medium high heat and stirring occasionally. When finished, mix in sesame oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.Place rice into 2 bowls.
- Cook chicken: Heat oil in a pan on medium high. When hot, add chicken tenders and cook for a few minutes on each side, until outside is caramelized and inside is fully cooked.
- Dipping sauce: Mix mayo and Sriracha to create dipping sauce.
- Prepare rice bowl toppings: Slice veggies and sprinkle on top of rice. Add chicken, squeeze half of lime on each bowl and serve.