Lunch is served with this vegan banh mi recipe featuring tofu. Vietnam honors the flavors of sweet, salty, spicy, and tart in their most popular dishes. Banh mis are no exception, and this vegan version captures and celebrates all four of those flavor points. For the tofu marinade, we kept it vegan by skipping the usual fish sauce and looking to toasted seaweed snacks to add that perfectly subtle touch of brine.
Vegan Banh Mi Recipe
Prep Time: 30 minutes (does not include marinating time)
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Makes 4 servings
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into
One 6 ounce piece daikon radish, peeled
and cut into matchsticks
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Kosher salt,
divided, plus more to taste
2½ teaspoons granulated sugar
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 to 2 tablespoons sriracha
½ cup vegan mayonnaise
Kosher salt, to taste
One 14 to 16 ounce block extra-firm or firm
tofu, drained well
6 sheets toasted seaweed snacks (sea salt
flavor), finely crumbled
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
One 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and
3 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
1 large French baguette, lightly toasted
1 Persian cucumber, about 3½ ounces,
sliced diagonally 1/8-inch thick
1 small jalapeno, thinly slice diagonally,
1/2 cup cilantro, lightly packed
- Pickled Vegetables: Add the carrots and daikon to a medium bowl. Sprinkle with one tablespoon salt, then add two cups of water and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. This will help to tenderize the vegetables while keeping them pleasantly crunchy.
- Drain the vegetables in a colander, and rinse well with water. Return the vegetables to the medium bowl and add the sugar, vinegar, and remaining one teaspoon salt. Stir until well-combined, and season with more salt if needed. Refrigerate for at least one hour and up to overnight.
- Spicy Mayonnaise: Combine the lime juice, sriracha, and vegan mayonnaise in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth. Season to taste with salt then refrigerate along with the pickled vegetables.
- Marinated Tofu: Cut the tofu crosswise into twelve rectangle pieces, about 1/2-inch thick (this will depend on the size of the tofu you are using). Lay the tofu piece in a single layer onto a baking sheet lined with several paper towels. Top with additional paper towels then top with a second baking sheet. Add several heavy cans or a cast-iron pan on top of the baking sheet and press the tofu for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the nori to a blender along with ¼ cup of very hot water and sugar. Soak until the nori is completely softened, about five minutes. Add ginger, garlic, and soy sauce and blend until completely smooth. Pour into a large, shallow baking dish.
- Add the pressed tofu to the baking dish, and gently turn to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
- To cook the tofu, line a large plate with several paper towels and add the tofu in a single layer. Use your hands to lightly pat the tofu into the paper towels then turn each piece over.
- Heat a large, non-stick pan between medium and medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of avocado oil and swirl the pan to coat. Add sux pieces of the tofu to the pan and cook until browned and crispy around the edges, about three minutes per side. Transfer the tofu to a baking sheet or large plate. Carefully wipe out the pan with a paper towel and repeat the cooking process with the remaining oil and marinated tofu.
- To Assemble: Cut the lightly toasted baguette crosswise into four pieces, then slice each piece in half lengthwise. Smear the spicy mayonnaise on both sides of the sliced baguette then layer each of the bottom bread pieces with three pieces of tofu. Top with cucumbers, jalapeno (if using), pickled vegetables, cilantro, and top baguette pieces. Serve immediately.
Notes and Tips:
● When shopping for a baguette, try to find one that is not too hard and crusty since it will be further toasted for serving. Toasting the baguette whole before cutting into individual servings keeps the center of the bread nice and fluffy.
● Make sure to use extra-firm or firm tofu here. Anything softer in texture will fall apart during the cooking process.
● Cutting the tofu before pressing it helps to remove even more water than if you were to press the tofu as one whole piece.
● Patting the tofu dry before adding it to the hot pan will reduce splattering and will help get the tofu nice and brown without the marinade burning