This tofu banh mi is my vegan version of the Vietnamese classic sandwich. Slices of marinated tofu, crunchy veggies, fresh chillies, plenty of coriander and spicy sauce all come together in a delicious crusty baguette for vegan lunch perfection.
I first had tofu banh mi in Laos, when I was travelling there way back in 2008. I was totally sold on it from the very first bite and I’ve always regretted that we didn’t travel further east to Vietnam to eat more of them! Luckily tofu banh mi is pretty easy to get in London these days. And now I know how to make my own I can have it whenever I want.
I was really struck by the availability of fresh European style bread in Cambodia and Laos. It was very welcome indeed after spending the previous three months in India. India has some of the best vegetarian food in the world. As for breads, India has plenty of flatbread but I was definitely missing crusty white bread.
Wondering how the baguette became popular in Vietnam and south east Asia? Well, it’s because the country was part of a colony called French Indochina from 1887 to 1954.
What is banh mi?
Banh mi, or bánh mì, is a Vietnamese sandwich, made with a baguette. Fillings include meat, pickled vegetables and plenty of chilli. Veggie versions, made with tofu, are common.
Being packed full of colour, banh mi is a visually stunning sandwich. And its taste is pretty stunning as well. If you haven’t tried one before then you’re in for a treat because it is delicious!
How can you make banh mi vegan?
Banh mi is most commonly made with meat but it’s very easy to make it vegan and tofu banh mi is fairly common in south east Asia. Any kind of tofu can be used as long as it is firm – avoid silken tofu for this recipe. You could even use pre-marinated if you wanted. I prefer to marinate my own and for this recipe I’ve used a simple marinade of sesame oil, soy sauce and ginger.
Many banh mi recipes contain mayo, which is spread on the baguette before serving. Sometimes this is mixed with sriracha sauce for a spicy alternative. I am not a fan of mayonnaise so I have left it out but by all means add your favourite vegan mayo if you like.
How to make vegan tofu banh mi
If you’re marinating your own tofu be sure to leave enough time for it to cook and cool before making up your baguettes.
Vegan tofu banh mi
This tofu banh mi is my vegan version of the Vietnamese classic. Slices of marinated tofu, crunchy veggies, fresh chillies, plenty of coriander and spicy sauce all come together in a delicious crusty baguette for vegan lunch perfection.
- 400 g block firm tofu
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 thumb-sized piece ginger peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cucumber cut into batons
- 1 carrot peeled and cut into thin strips
- 1 daikon or radish optional, peeled and cut into thin strips
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 small baguettes
- 1 red chilli sliced
- handful fresh coriander roughly chopped
- Sriracha sauce to serve
- Vegan mayonnaise optional
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan)/200°C/gas mark 6. Press as much water as possible out of the tofu. You can do this with a tofu press or use sheets of kitchen towel and press under a heavy plate.
Cut into thick slices and cover with the sesame oil, soy sauce and ginger. Mix well. If you have time leave to marinate for 30-60 minutes.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until turning crispy, turning halfway. Set aside.
While the tofu is cooking prepare your vegetables. Once the cucumber, carrot and daikon or radish (if using) are sliced place them in a bowl and cover with the white wine vinegar and sugar. Stir then cover with a lid and leave to pickle for at least 15 minutes.
Once your tofu has cooked allow it to cool slightly* then prepare your banh mi. Slice the baguettes in half lengthways. If liked spread with mayonnaise.
Fill with the tofu slices, pickled vegetables, sliced chillies and fresh coriander.
Serve with sriracha sauce if liked.
*If packing to take for lunch later allow your tofu to cool completely before making up the baguette.
If you like this you might also like this vegan pad Thai.