Thursday, May 26, 2016

Week 18 - Brown Bag Lunch

The theme for Week 18 was brown bag lunch, which for me immediately screamed sandwich. Sure, I could have done something more creative, since you can pack up lots of things for a lunch, but considering we had a lot of bread in the fridge (bought a 2 loaf pack from Costco), it seemed like a better idea to just try out a new sandwich combination.

Inspired by this Real Simple recipe for an Asian turkey sandwich with hoisin mayonnaise, I decided to make a hoisin chicken salad sandwich. The ingredients I used (for 2 sandwiches) were:

- 4 slices wheat bread ($0.40)
- 1/2 cucumber, shaved ($0.65)
- 3 carrots, grated ($0.30)
- 12.5 oz can of chicken ($2)
- 3 scallions, chopped ($0.26)
- about 1/4 cup mayonnaise ($0.46)
- about 1 tbsp hoisin sauce ($0.20)

The total for the sandwiches was about $4.27. We ate it alongside our favorite Costco chopped salad, so the total for the entire dinner was $8.76. It was pretty filling, so not too bad of a price.

To make the sandwiches, it was really all prep work, which for some reason took a ridiculously long time. The prep work included:

- wash and peel cucumber; cut in half; use peeler to shave slices of cucumber for the sandwich (I also cut the rest of the cucumber and an onion for a pickled cucumber salad so it didn't go to waste, same prep as the pickling challenge)
- wash and peel 1 lb of carrots; grate 3 carrots (I also cut the rest of the carrots to store in the freezer for a future recipe so they didn't go to waste)
- drain canned chicken and microwave for 30 seconds
- wash and chop 3 scallions
- mix chicken salad by combining heated chicken, scallions, mayo, and hoisin sauce

Once all of that was done, it was time to assemble the sandwiches, some cucumber and carrots along with a few scoops of chicken salad. I probably should have picked some cilantro out of the chopped salad and added it to the sandwich, since that's another topping that's usually on a banh mi, which is what I imagine inspired the toppings of the Real Simple sandwich. Oh well. The sandwich definitely could have used some herbs. The original recipe used mint, but I didn't want to buy an entire batch of mint just to use a few leaves. I would have used cilantro, but I didn't want to get a whole batch of that either just for this. Should have just picked it out of the salad, but I didn't realize that until the sandwiches were already eaten.

Generally, the sandwiches were fine, although we both thought they would be much more flavorful than they were, considering the addition of the hoisin sauce. The part that had the most flavor was actually the scallions, and every bite with scallions was better than those without. It was nice that the sandwich had a lot of vegetables in it and wasn't just meat, but it just wasn't very exciting. Probably wouldn't make it again, but it was fine for dinner.

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