Tired of eating the same sandwiches? Allow me to introduce to you arguably the best type of sandwich in the world, Bánh Mì. This vegan friendly Vietnamese sandwich is stuffed with fresh, aromatic lemongrass tofu and a few classic vegetables such as pickled daikon and carrots. With one bite, it will hit 4 of the main taste receptors: sweet, sour, salty, and savory.
What is Bánh Mì?
In Vietnamese, Bánh Mì is “bread” and comprises of French baguette filled with meat, pâté, pickled vegetables, cucumber, chili pepper, and cilantro. Although more commonly made with grilled meat, it is also made with tofu for vegans and non-vegans alike.
Vegan Food in Vietnam
Fun fact: Vietnam has normalized vegan food to the point where there seems to be mock meat (made out of gluten or soy) for every type of popular Vietnamese dish. While tofu may not be one of those mock meats, it is one of those vegan foods that has been seamlessly incorporated into the diets of many Vietnamese people. In fact, some of the best Vietnamese dishes include tofu (link here). Lemongrass tofu is no exception and if i could describe it in one word, it would be phenomenal.
What is lemongrass?
If you haven’t tried lemongrass before, stop what you’re doing and head to your grocery store and buy a few fresh stalks now! Just kidding, but actually though…. Lemongrass (aka Cymbopogon citratus) is a plant native to the tropical climates of regions such as Southeast Asia. It is frequently used as an herb to add a lemony aroma and citrus flavor in Vietnamese cooking.
I hope you love this sandwich as much as I do. It is:
Easy to make
If you make the pickled daikon and carrots ahead of time, you can make the entire sandwich in less than 15 minutes!
A few notes:
- For any leftovers, store the cucumbers, cilantro, and tofu separately from the bread. This is great for meal prep. Once you make the tofu and pickled vegetables, it is extremely quick to put together. This could be made for lunch 4 days in a row. Alternatively, you could use the leftover tofu to make spring rolls.
- Most Asian markets sell pre-fried ready to eat tofu for cheap. I prefer buying these tofu packs when I’m short on time. However, if you don’t have a local Asian grocery store, you can fry the tofu yourself. Check out how to pan fry tofu here.
- For Thai Bird Eye chili, you can buy a 20-30 pack of fresh chili peppers for $1 USD at your local Asian market and freeze it for later use.
Please let me know if you gave this recipe a try. Leave a comment, rate it and tag a photo on Instagram @tifflovestofu. I’d love to see or hear how it turned out for you.
Vietnamese Lemongrass Tofu Bánh Mì Sandwich
- Lemongrass Tofu
- 1 10oz. pack of pre-fried tofu (cut into matchsticks, see more info in the Notes below)
- 2 tbsp minced lemongrass (use white bulb only, refer to video for trimming and cutting method)
- 5 Thai Bird Eye Chili, skip if not a fan of spicy(frozen or fresh, see Notes below)
- ¼ cup shallot (minced)
- 3 garlic cloves (minced)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1 Baguette (best if made fresh from your local bakery)
- 2 cilantro sprigs (roughly chopped)
- 3 jalapeño pepper slices
- 2 or 3 thin cucumber strips (Persian or English cucumber preferred)
- 1 tbsp vegan mayo
- Pickled Daikon and Carrots (Do Chua)
- ½ large carrot (cut into thin matchsticks)
- 1 palm sized daikon (cut into thin matchsticks)
- 2 tbsp salt
- 6 tbsp sugar
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
- ½ cup water
- Step 1 To save time, make the pickled daikon and carrots one or two days ahead of time. If made the day of, let the vegetables marinate for at least an hour before using. Combine carrots and daikon in a bowl and add the salt and 2 tbsp of sugar. With clean hands, massage and squeeze the vegetables until it is soft enough to bend without breaking (about 5-10 minutes). Drain the liquid and rinse the vegetables well. Add the vegetables to a clean, glass jar (I used a 160z container). Next, add the 4 tbsp sugar, white vinegar and water. Close the jar with the lid and make sure it is tightly sealed before shaking the jar for 10 seconds for the mixture to spread evenly. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Step 2 To mince lemongrass, begin with peeling the outer layers until you reach the smooth center (refer to video on how to peel the layers). You will know that you reached the center when it smells incredibly fragrant and when you can slightly bend it. From here, go ahead and mince the white bulb. Sometimes you can get away with cutting past the white bulb but chances are the further away you cut from the bottom base, the tougher it will be to chop. Once the lemongrass has been chopped, mince the garlic and shallots and roughly chop the chili pepper. Cut the pre-fried tofu into matchsticks.
- Step 3 In a nonstick pan, heat up the vegetable oil for a few seconds before adding the shallots. After a few minutes, add the lemongrass, garlic, chili pepper, and salt. Pan fry until the shallots turn a slightly golden brown color. Add the tofu and stir until the mixture evenly coats the tofu. Once the tofu has heated up in the pan for 2-3 minutes, plate and set to the side while we assemble our bánh mì ingredients.
- Step 4 If the baguette is a day old or cold, make sure to toast in your oven for a few minutes or until its slightly crispy before adding the ingredients. Baguettes tend to go stale fairly quick even after sitting out for a few hours so we want to make sure the bread is warm and crispy when we make our bánh mì. Use a sharp bread knife to cut the baguette in half and then across the center of its horizontal axis.
- Step 5 With one half of the baguette spread open, slather the mayo on the insides of both pieces of bread. Add the tofu, cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, pickled daikon and carrots. It is now ready to enjoy!