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Melt-in-your-mouth . . .

‘Barbecue season is upon us and although the standard Kiwi fare is steak and sausages on the hot grill, a barbecue can be utilised in so many other ways,’ says former chef Rebecca Leader. ‘Try this Vietnamese barbecue recipe with a French twist . . .’

I recently purchased an auger-feed pellet smoker and I am thrilled with all the different barbecue options this is adding to my favourite foods,” says Rebecca, who loves to experiment with food. “American low and slow barbecue is a huge fave in our house with 12-hour brisket and four-hour baby back ribs with home-made rum sauce — what's not to love?

“Many countries have their own versions of barbecue food. Lemon, pineapple smoked chicken Banh Mi with pickled vegetables is a Vietnamese barbecue recipe with a French twist. I have taken the original concept, removed some ingredients and added a few additional ingredients of my own.

“I am drawn to the fresh flavours you find in Vietnamese food — loads of fresh herbs and vegetables, some pickled to add another dimension of flavour to the already deliciously-fresh ingredients.

“The original recipe I came across had chicken liver pate in it and although I was willing to try it the first time and didn't mind it, I found that the pate texture and flavour did not align with how I thought of Vietnamese food.

“A few attempts and alterations later, I believe that my version is so moreish it's hard to stop at one — but if you could eat two, I'd be impressed. They are very filling and satisfying.

“I found the pineapple was a great addition to the brine — the acids in the pineapple worked to break down some of the proteins in the chicken creating a beautifully-soft and juicy texture. Add in the smokiness from the barbecue and the chicken is absolutely melt-in-your mouth.”

Lemon, Pineapple Smoked Chicken Banh Mi with Pickled Vegetables

Serves 4

Chilli, Garlic Mayo


½ cup good-quality whole egg aioli

4 tbsp Asian chilli garlic sauce

Zest and juice of one lemon


• Mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate.

Lemon Pineapple Brine


4 tbsp fish sauce

4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

4 tbsp fresh pineapple juice — about an inch slice of the fresh pineapple. (I squeezed my fresh pineapple in my lemon squeezer)

1 small red onion, finely diced.

4 garlic cloves, minced.

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp sesame oil

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless


• Mix all ingredients together then add the chicken. This can be done earlier in the day and put in the fridge to soak or placed in the brine at room temperature for an hour.

• The brine also makes an amazing marinade for squid to make salt and pepper squid. Recipe to come.

Pickled Chilli, Carrot and Garlic


2 tbsp sugar

4 tsp sea salt

200ml rice wine vinegar

3 carrots julienned

3-4 large red chillies, sliced

4 cloves of garlic, sliced


• In a jar shake together the vinegar, sugar and salt. Add in the vegetables. Mix well and put in the fridge till needed.

• Don't worry if you make too much — the left over pickled vegetables are delicious added to a salad or sandwich.

To complete


4 mini baguettes.

Sliced cucumber

Sliced red onion

1 cup coriander, roughly chopped

4 tbsp mint, roughly chopped


• Mix coriander and mint together.

• If you have a smoker, smoke the chicken or alternatively cook chicken on a hot barbecue grill for around 20 minutes.

• Brush the sliced open baguettes with olive oil and while the chicken is resting after cooking, grill the baguette on the hot grill.

• Once the bread is grilled, smother both sides inside with the chilli, garlic mayo.

• On the bottom put the fresh herbs, cucumber, red onion slices, then the pickled vegetables.

• Lastly add the chicken that has been sliced about 1cm thick.

Bon appetit!

Lemon, pineapple smoked chicken Banh Mi with pickled vegetables. Pictures by Rebecca Leader
Rebecca Leader is thrilled with her new auger-feed pellet smoker. Picture by Liam Clayton