I'm a big sandwich lover - for lunch, dinner, even breakfast (think Egg McMuffin, or for the more elegantly inclined, the scrambled egg on baguette served at La Chatelaine).

I'm a big sandwich lover - for lunch, dinner, even breakfast (think Egg McMuffin, or for the more elegantly inclined, the scrambled egg on baguette served at La Chatelaine). Sandwiches are ideal in any weather and can be equally friendly to vegetarians and meat eaters.

When I lived in San Francisco, I would occasionally take a bus to a seedy part of town to get a Vietnamese sandwich for lunch. For just $2.10 I could enjoy a crispy baguette slathered with butter and layered with chicken, chili peppers, cilantro and carrot relish.

Recently, I decided it was time to recreate the dish at home. It's not complicated. The only part that needs measurement is the carrot salad - and you can even wing that if you want.

Just be aware that this sandwich as written is quite spicy. For children or adults with no tolerance for heat, cut the seeds out of the jalapeno or leave it out altogether.


Vietnamese-Style Grilled Chicken Sandwiches
Makes 4

Chicken:
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil (optional)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
vegetable oil


Salad:
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 carrots, cut into matchstick-size strips


Sandwiches:
1 baguette, cut into 4 pieces and split lengthwise, almost in half
1 jalapeno pepper, split, seeded, thinly sliced (optional)
8 sprigs fresh cilantro

To make chicken: Combine lime juice, soy sauce and chili oil in a zipper-top plastic bag. Add chicken. Turn to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, or in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours.

To make salad: Combine vinegar, sugar and salt in a bowl, stirring until sugar and salt dissolve. Add carrots. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Prepare grill to medium-high heat. Brush with vegetable oil.
Remove chicken from marinade. Grill chicken until cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Thinly slice chicken. Arrange on baguettes. Top with carrot salad, then jalapenos and cilantro. Close baguette and press together gently so juices permeate the bread. Serve immediately.