Bánh what? Bánh Mi! This vegetarian/ vegan take on the Vietnamese Classic is nothing you would want to miss! Imagine crispy baguette, with a tangy, satisfying, spicy mayo, some super flavorful tofu, crunchy pickled veggies and a whole bunch of freshness! Doesn‘t that sound like something we would all need to bring some summery happiness into these cloudy days?
What is more, this can easily be prepared beforehand (essentially this means marinating the tofu and pickling the veggies) and then the dish is ready in what – 10 minutes probably! Sounds easy, right? Well, it is! And it is SO good!! When I made this, we devoured it, and finished every last crumb, although we already were super super full and happy 🙂
What is special about this dish?
Traditionally, bánh mi is served with pork sausage, cilantro, pickled carrots, radishes and buttery mayonnaise is a short baguette. However, we want to make it a little bit more nutritious and therefore do a few changes. Instead ig pork sausage, we are using marinated and pan-fried tofu. This not only makes this meal vegetarian (and optionally vegan) but also mire nutrient dense and less heavy in fats. What is more, instead of the buttery mayo, we are lightning it up by mixing in some greek yoghurt (in the following paragraph you can read how this is healthier). If you want to make a vegan version of it, you could decide to go for vegan mayo and for a plant based yoghurt instead.
How healthy is this recipe?
In general it can be said that this dish is pretty nutritious, because of the variety of ingredients. The pickled vegetables, that really account for that typical bánh mi flavor, are high in fibre and vitamins. The carrots for example, are a great source of Vitamin C, which helps boost your immune system – great for the colder season ahead!
Besides, the tofu also is high in protein and does contain all amino acids to make it a complete protein (if you want to read more about why tofu is so good for you, click here). And in comparison to traditional bánh mi, which is served with pork, it is considerably lower in saturated fats and higher in fibre. Since we are adding soy sauce to the marinade, the sodium content is rather high, however, you could use low-sodium soy sauce.
The bread is a great source of carbohydrates, providing you energy. It though is not wholegrain and is a simple carb. For more nutritional value, you can simply use whole grain baguette. This then is a complex carbohydrate, causing your blood sugar levels not to spike and keeping you full for longer due to its fibre.
Last but not least we have the mayo. It can be said that without the Mayo it is not really a bánh mi because it gives it this classic spicy and rich flavor. Nonetheless, mayo contains a lot of fats. They for the most prt are unsaturated, which is great for your brain, but too much also is not ideal. Therefore we are lightning this sauce up by mixing the mayo with greek yoghurt and sriracha. The greek yoghurt comes with a decent amount of protein and does not really change the flavor too much! A great way to lighten things up!
Make it vegan!
In case you want to make a vegan version out of this dish, that is super easy! Instead of traditional mayo and greek yoghurt, just use vegan mayo and a plant based yoghurt alternative. The bread should be vegan anyway and regarding the tofu marinade, you could just use vegan fish sauce or leave it out completely! And there you go and have your vegan version of it!
Is it really that simple to make?
Yes, it is! The only things you need to prepare are the tofu and the pickles. For the tofu, all that needs to be done is mixing the different sauces with garlic and ginger and letting the tofu bath in there for a few hours. The longer the better! If you only have one hour, that works too, just be aware that the flavor will not be that intense.
What else needs to be prepared are the pickles, but also those are easy peasy. Here we add some vinegar, rice wine vinegar, water and a little bit of sugar to a pot, bring it to a boil and then pour it over the slices carrots and radish and also just let them chill in the fridge.
Once the preparation is done, the rest is fairly easy. We just need to fry the tofu in the pan for about 2 minutes on each side and then fill the bread with the mayo, the tofu, the herbs, pickles and veggies! And voilà – there you go!
Seriously, I was not kidding when I say that we devoured this dish! It was sooo incredibly flavorful and satisfying and all the ingredients worked together in such great harmony. I cannot think of a reason for why you should not make this – it is just way too delicious!! In case you try this (which you should), I would love to hear how you like it, so feel free to leave a comment or text me on Instagram!
The Ultimate (vegetarian) Bánh Mi Recipe Anyone Will Love (vegan options)
Step away from your regular sandwich game and take it next level! Crispy baguette filled with spicy, tangy mayo, super flavorful tofu, crunchy pickles and fresh herbs. Every bite is an explosion of flavor in your mouth – plus it is super easy to make!! No excuses not to make it!
What you will need
- 1 baguette
- 2 tbsp mayo
- 1 tsp sriracha (or more if you wish)
- 4 tbsp greek yoghurt
- 1 cucumber
- cilantro & mint
For the tofu:
- 200 g tofu
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp (vegan) fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 lime
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 thumb-sized piece ginger
- 1 carrot
- 1/2 radish
- 50 ml white wine vinegar
- 50 ml rice vinegar
- 50 ml water
- 1 tsp sugar
To marinate the tofu, finely grate or chop the ginger and garlic and mix with the soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil and lime juice. Cut the tofu into about 1/2cm thick and 3x4cm wide pieces, cover in the marinade and let sit for up to 3-4 hours (it also works if you only let them sit for an hour). The longer, the better.
To make the pickles peel carrot and radish and cut into thin sticks. Bring the vinegars, water and sugar to a pot and bring to a boil. Place the carrot and radish in a jar and cover with the vinegar. Let sit for as long as possible – the longer the better.
Once ready to prepare the rest, cut the baguette in two pieces and then cut them in half lengthwise (if you do not cut them through, it is easier to eat them). mix the mayo, greek yoghurt and sriracha and spread the bread with it. Next add the pickles.
Remove the tofu from the marinade and fry it in hot oil for about 2-3 minutes on each side, turn down the heat to medium and pour the remaining sauce over the tofu and let it cook in.
Add the tofu on top of the pickles, next the cucumber and then the herbs. Close the sandwich and enjoy!!
Have fun cooking & enjoy!
Katie // Une Petite Cuisinière