Move over, bánh mì — there’s a new Asian sandwich in town. (We’re kidding, there’s ample room for both.) Num pang is the name of both this delicious Cambodian sandwich and the NYC shop that slings the best ones outside of Phnom Penh. Join authors and Num Pang co-owners Ratha Chaupoly and Ben Daitz in their quest to fill baguettes with inventive, delicious combinations.
One of our personal favorites as well as one of the most popular num pangs is the glazed peach and bacon. It’s that combination of sweet heat, fatty crunch, smoke, and juiciness that is like total sandwich nirvana. We tap into the same pleasure zone in this combination: spicy soy–glazed juicy, ripe figs and salty, crackly fried chicken skin. Now there is no way we could ever make this sandwich to feed the thousands upon thousands of hungry New Yorkers who stream into our shops every day. But at home, it’s totally doable. Of course you can swap the chicken skin for bacon, but you’ll be missing out — the chicken skin is like crispy, porky lace compared to a more solid plank of bacon.
Heads up: So yeah, you’re totally going to peel away the chicken skin from the breast and save the breast meat for another time. It might sound weird to use just the chicken skin, but think of how good it’s going to taste! Most butchers will sell you chicken skin, so call, ask, and make your life easier.
- 4 skin-on chicken breasts, skin removed (save the meat for another time)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground dried Thai bird's eye chili, plus a pinch
- 10 fresh black Mission figs, halved lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 medium jalapeño, thinly sliced on an angle into rounds
- 2 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch segments
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 (6-inch) baguettes, split lengthwise and toasted
- 3 tablespoons Most Important Chili Mayo
- 1 medium Kirby cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise on an angle into 6 long planks
- 8 sprigs fresh cilantro
- 2/3 cup Holy Pickled Carrots
Most Important Chili Mayo (makes 1 cup)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sambal oelek, plus more as needed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Holy Pickled Carrots (makes 1 quart)
- 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus more as needed
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 4 medium carrots, grated (about 4 cups)
For the carrots
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegars, sugar and salt until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the carrots and stir to combine.
Let the carrots sit in the vinegar brine for at least 20 minutes before using. Taste them — they should be balanced, not very salty and slightly more sour than sweet. If the flavor needs to be adjusted, add a little more sugar, salt or a splash of water to lessen the intensity of the vinegar. Transfer the carrots and brine to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
For the mayo
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sambal, sugar, salt and pepper. Taste and add more sambal if you want it spicier. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
For the chicken skin
Heat a medium skillet over low heat. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken skin with the salt and place the skin in the pan. Cook the skin, using a spatula to press it down firmly, until it starts to brown, about 1 minute, then flip the skin over and brown on the other side, pressing down firmly, about 1 minute more. Continue to cook, flipping the skin occasionally, until both sides are deeply browned, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer the crispy skins to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.
For the glazed figs
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, honey, soy sauce, a pinch of dried chili, and a pinch of salt. Set the figs, cut-side up, on the lined baking sheet, season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon dried chili and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then drizzle with the vinegar mixture. Bake the figs until the glaze is bubbling and the cut sides of the figs burst a bit in the center, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
For the num pang
Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the jalapeño, scallions, salt, and some black pepper, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until the jalapeño is tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the jalapeño and scallions to the plate with the chicken skins.
Spread both sides of each baguette half with the chili mayo. On the bottom bun half, add half the glazed figs and top with half the jalapeño-scallion mixture. Lay a few pieces of the crispy chicken skin on top. On the other bun half, add the cucumber slices followed by the cilantro and the pickled carrots. Press the two halves together and repeat for the other sandwich.