Crispy Chicken Banh Mi Bowls with Veggies
Crispy pressure cooker chicken banh mi bowls! The chicken is quickly cooked in the pressure cooker and then we crisp it up under the broiler and serve it with rice, pickled veggies and sriracha mayo! It is so so good!
Banh mi bowlin’.
The crispy chicken obsession of 2017 continues. Remember when we made those crispy chicken carnitas back in January and I told you this was my newest obsession? You already knew that something like this was bound to happen, didn’t you? Well, it happened. We’re taking the classic banh mi sandwiches we love, subtracting the bread (but it’s sooo good and sooo carby ?) and adding in crispy chicken and serving it over rice while we pile on those pickled veggies, jalapeños, sprinkle it with chopped cilantro and drizzle on that spicy sriracha mayo. I live for sauce.
And while we’re talking about these banh mi bowls – friends, you can certainly use this stuff and make banh mi sandwiches if you’re a food purist and can’t even IMAGINE why anyone would want to turn banh mi into a bowl. And if you embrace the fusion food lyfe then how about banh mi tacos?
Yes. Definitely, let’s do that.
It all starts with crispy chicken. The center, the core, the rock of this recipe.
We’ll start with a homemade liquid mix that the chicken will cook in, it’s just equal parts lemongrass paste, fish sauce, sugar, sriracha, and rice vinegar along with a quarter cup of low sodium soy sauce and voila! That’s that. If fish sauce really isn’t your thing, that’s cool, I get that. Leave it out, this recipe is pretty forgiving in that way!
Now season the chicken with salt and pepper and do a quick sear on the chicken to hold in all the juices. For the aromatics, I add an onion that’s been quartered, a few cloves of garlic, a jalapeño thats been sliced and a handful of cilantro. Push it all around the pot to really bring out those flavors.
Add the chicken and the cooking liquid back in and pressure cook the chicken until it’s cooked through. This takes about 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. What you get are these tender chicken breasts infused with all the flavorings we put in and that chicken shreds so easily. Once that’s done, we’ll drizzle it with those juices it cooked in and a tablespoon of sesame oil and into the oven it goes to broil for a few minutes.
What you get is this incredibly crispy chicken that’s caramelized from the sugar on the outside and yet tender and juicy on the inside.
Now about those quick pickled veggies. Really, I should’ve told you about these first because you’ll need to let them sit and hangout for a while to really soften and grab onto that the pickling brine, but that chicken! I just couldn’t resist starting with it!
The pickled veggies are easy breezy! They MAKE the banh mi bowls what they are. The vinegary slash sweet slash salty taste is exactly what that chicken needs. You’ll need equal parts water and rice vinegar with some sugar and a good bit of salt to make the pickling liquid. I used daikon radishes and carrots that I ribboned using a super basic peeler. Not into ribbons? You can buy those matchstick carrots if you aren’t interested in all that peeling, it’ll work just as well. You can even use a mandoline and make thin circles. All of these methods will work.
To assemble, start with your base – rice, quinoa, farro, or my personal favorite, chopped cabbage mix. I’m obsessed with that stuff! We almost always have some in the fridge and since i’m constantly trying to lower my carb intake (which, take it from someone who knows is 10x as hard if you’re asian!), I swap half the rice for cabbage mix and guys! It’s so freshy fresh in this bowl. It gives these banh mi bowls an element of crunch that’s light and refreshing. I don’t know, it just all goes together well. Try it!
You’ll add on the crispy banh mi chicken, pile on your pickled veggies, add your herbs, sliced jalapeños and then do a big drizzle of sriracha mayo because what is ANYTHING without sauce? You can make your own (it’s just a few tablespoons sriracha with 1/2 cup of mayo) or grab a squeeze bottle of that stuff from your international food aisle.
I made a little over a pound of this stuff and it disappeared in a flash. Crispy chicken that’s great in bowls, works well for a banh mi salads, sandwiches, tacos, and pretty much any other way you want to serve it!
Bowls are my weekday lifeline // lightened up comfort food.
Banh mi bowls are everythang.
For pickled veggies:
- 1/2 cup EACH: water AND rice vinegar
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/4 cup EACH daikon radish ribbons AND carrot ribbons (see notes)
For the chicken:
- 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (or thighs)
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon EACH: sugar, sriracha, rice vinegar, lemongrass paste, AND fish sauce (see note)
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 jalapeño, sliced (seeds and ribs removed for less spicy)
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves + stems
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- white rice or quinoa, sliced jalapeños, chopped cilantro, sliced cucumbers, sriracha mayo (see notes for recipe)
- Pickled veggies: In a medium bowl, whisk together the water, sugar, rice vinegar and salt until dissolved. Add veggies and allow to soak for at least 30 minutes and ideally for 1-2 hours, covered, in the refrigerator.
- Crispy chicken: Whisk together the sugar, sriracha, rice vinegar, lemongrass paste, and fish sauce with 2 tablespoons of water, and soy sauce in a bowl; set aside.
- Sprinkle the chicken with a pinch of salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the instant pot on the sauté setting. Add a quick swish of oil and sear the chicken breasts for a minute on each side. Remove chicken to a plate. Add the onions, garlic, jalapeños, and cilantro to the pot and let cook for 2 minutes stirring so nothing sticks.
- Add the chicken back into the pressure cooker and pour the prepared liquid on top. Cover, let pressure cook on the ‘chicken’ setting for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breast. Allow the pressure to release naturally or turn to the ‘vent’ setting and allow it to vent completely before removing lid.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to the ‘broiler’ setting. Remove chicken breast to a flat surface and shred using 2 forks. Place in a large bowl and drizzle ¼ cup of cooking liquid and sesame oil over the chicken and toss to coat. Spread chicken out onto a baking sheet. Broil the chicken for 10-12 minutes stopping half way to toss the chicken and drizzle another 1-2 tablespoons of cooking liquid. Rotate the pan for even broiling.
- Assemble: Place the rice or quinoa in a bowl, top with crispy chicken, pickled veggies, sliced jalapeños, chopped cilantro, and drizzle with homemade sriracha sauce and a pinch of sesame seeds if desired.
- To make the ribbons, use a regular vegetable peeler and peel the way you normally would, turning the vegetable slightly after every peel. You can also use a mandoline to make the ribbons or simply make circles. Thinly sliced daikon radishes + matchstick carrots would also work!
- I found Lemongrass paste from Gourmet Garden in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Equal quantities of freshly minced lemongrass can also be used.
- Fish sauce is optional. You can easily omit it from this recipe if you don't care for the flavor.
- To make your own sriracha mayo: combine 2-4 tablespoons of sriracha (depending on your spice preference) with 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and a pinch of garlic powder. Stir to combine. Pour into a squeeze bottle, it's easier to serve that way!