This Tofu Banh Mi Sandwich has it all – lemongrass tofu tucked into a fresh baguette spread with sriracha mayo, plus quick pickled veggies for crunch!
Do you love sandwiches? I know I do! There’s something so fresh and inviting about a big platter of sandwiches. No matter what cuisine you enjoy, there is a sandwich with those flavors! This Vietnamese-inspired tofu bánh mì has all the amazing flavors you’d find from a street vendor.
This is such a fun recipe to make because it contains many (easy but delicious) components. If you haven’t tried your hand at pickling veggies before, this is a great way to start. Once you see how easy it is to make a quick pickle in an hour, I bet you’ll be on the search for even more great pickling recipes! You can also make a mayo as spicy as you can handle here. The creaminess is the perfect match for the pickles.
Ingredients for Vegetarian Bánh Mì
A typical bahn mi is filled with meat and pickled veggies. We’re going to marinate some tofu as the protein and star of this fun little vegan sandwich.
- Tofu: Marinated extra firm tofu gives us that delightful chewy protein that you look for in a deli sandwich. We’ll flavor it with Vietnamese staples, like soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil ginger, and lemongrass.
- Pickled Veggies: I’ll show you how to do a quick pickle of cucumbers carrots, and jalapeno to add a zingy crunch on top of the sandwich.
- Sriracha Mayo: What is a sandwich without a tasty spread? Since we’re making our own you can control the heat level.
- Baguette: Vietnamese baguettes are the usual bread for banh mi sandwiches. If you can’t find those, simply use mini baguettes!
Fresh lemongrass can be difficult to find in some areas. I like to buy the tube of pre-grated lemongrass and keep it in my fridge condiment shelf for when I need that delicious lemongrass flavor!
How to make Vegan Bánh Mì
This recipe will take some time to let all the flavors marinate, but hands-on time isn’t too long (and it’s all worth it in the name of flavor!) You can easily prep the tofu the day before and then work on getting everything else in order while the veggies pickle.
Step 1: Cut
Slice your tofu into 4 long slabs that will tuck right into the baguettes. This way every bite will include tofu and none of it will be sliding out as you eat!
Step 2: Press
Use a tofu press or heavy skillet to press any excess moisture out for at least 15 minutes. This will allow the tofu to soak up the delicious marinade.
Step 3: Marinate Tofu
Stir together the marinade ingredients and then make sure each slice is thoroughly coated. Let this rest for at least an hour, but you can start the night before to make dinnertime fast!
Step 4: Pickled Veggies
Prepare the veggies and stir together the vinegar pickling mixture. Let this also rest for at least an hour. This is perfect for completing while you assemble all the other ingredients and cook the tofu.
Shred It Up
Do you have whole carrots but need shreds? I love using a julienne vegetable peeler for this to create long strands of carrot!
Step 5: Cook Tofu
Over high heat, cook the tofu in a skillet until nice and crispy on both sides. Be careful flipping so that the slices don’t fall apart.
Step 6: Assemble
Mix up the spicy mayo and spread in toasted baguettes. Add a few slabs of tofu to each one and then top with the veggies. Add cilantro if desired.
Tofu Tips: Make sure and use extra firm tofu. This will ensure it stays together in a single slab and also that it will soak up the marinade without falling apart.
Pickle Juice: Rice vinegar and sesame oil are key ingredients to make this pickle have Asian flair. These are definitely ingredients I like to store in my pantry at all times, and totally elevate your cooking!
Spicy or Not: Not a fan of spice? Skip the jalapeno in the veggie mix and tone down the amount of sriracha in the sauce.
Get Saucy: You can swap out the sriracha with miso mayo for a savory addition.
What To Serve With Banh Mi
While these sandwiches have so many elements that they could be served by themselves, here are some pairing ideas in case you’re hungry for an Asian-inspired feast!
- Vegetable Spring Rolls, as a bright appetizer for guests to munch while waiting on their sandwiches.
- Korean Kimchi Soup, because who doesn’t love the classic combo of soup and a sandwich?
- Fruit Mojitos, for a refreshing drink to wash everything down.
- 1 lb block extra firm tofu 450 g
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce 30 mL
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar 30 mL
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil 30 mL
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 tsp fresh grated lemongrass optional
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar 30 mL
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil 30 mL
- ½ tsp each salt and sugar
- 1 cup shredded carrots 200 g
- 1 cup sliced cucumber 200 g
- 1 jalapeno thinly sliced and deseeded
- ¼ cup mayonnaise can sub vegan alternative, 60 g
- 1 Tbsp sriracha 15 g
- 1 Tbsp lime juice 15 mL
- 4 small baguettes
- ½ cup cilantro 20 g
- Cut: Stand tofu on its side and cut down the center to create 2 thin slabs. Cut each slab in half lengthwise to create slabs that will fit in your baguettes.
- Press: Press tofu for at least 15 minutes, using either a tofu press or by wrapping it in a clean towel and setting a heavy pan on top of it, letting the moisture drain.
- Marinate Tofu: Stir together the rest of the Tofu ingredients in a shallow dish, then add the tofu. Coat each slab, then let marinate for at least 1 hour (up to 24 hours).
- Pickled Veggies: In a separate bowl, stir together all Pickled Veggies ingredients and let marinate for 1 hour.
- Cook Tofu: Cook tofu over high heat in a nonstick skillet, flipping to cook both sides until golden brown and crispy.
- Assemble: Stir together Sauce ingredients and spread on the inside of each baguette. Stuff with the tofu, pickled veggies, and cilantro.