Vegan Banh Mi

The iconic Vietnamese sandwich is an easy vegan swap—just lose the pork, swap fried or baked tofu, and double up on the fresh stuff. Really, it’s all about the pickled vegetables and the bread—the term “banh mi” refers to the loaf, traditionally a light, thin baguette made from a combination of rice and wheat flour, available at Vietnamese or Chinese markets. Or you can substitute a 6-inch-long segment of a traditionally baguette, or a ficelle—a very thin type of baguette.  


Vegan Banh Mi with Fried Tofu
Makes 1 sandwich

1/4 cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons agave or sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1/4 cup shredded daikon radish, shredded
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1 Vietnamese baguette
1  tablespoon low-fat, fat-free or regular mayonnaise
1 teaspoon red chili sauce
1/4 teaspoon low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
1 cup fried tofu cubes or baked tofu
2 strips English cucumber, 6 inches long by 1/4-inch thick
6 sprigs fresh cilantro
6 to 8 cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced, or 4 thin slices of tomato
4 lettuce leaves, torn to fit bread

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine vinegar, honey and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Add radish and carrot, and stir to mix. Let stand, stirring frequently to mix, for 15 to 30 minutes.
  3. Split baguette in half lengthwise. If using a regular baguette, hollow out bread in center with your fingers, leaving a trough. Place on a baking sheet and crisp in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  4. Spread mayonnaise on both sides of bread. Sprinkle mayonnaise with red chili sauce and tamari.
  5. Slice tofu into thin pieces, and assemble on one half of bread. Cover with cucumber strips and cilantro.
  6. Pour excess liquid out of bowl with carrot-radish mixture. Squeeze mixture to remove extra liquid. Top sandwich with carrot-radish slaw, tomatoes and lettuce leaves. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and white pepper.
  7. Top with other half of bread. Press down firmly. Leave whole, or in half on the diagonal, and wrap tightly in foil.
Originally published in Vegetarian Times.