Ok, so it’s kind of embarrassing to admit how obsessed I am with this sandwich. I have honestly made it at least 15 times since I first started toying with the recipe… it’s just that good! Something about the combination of crunchy, creamy, acidic, and chewy is everything I need in this world.
If you’ve never had a banh mi, there are a few defining characteristics that you should wrap your brain (or mouth?) around. First is the roll. In fact, the name “banh mi” actually refers to this particular bread, which is like a mini French baguette, a distinct mark of the French colonization of Vietnam. Typically, the star of the show is tofu or meat (pork belly, grilled chicken, pate, sardines) accompanied by cucumber, cilantro, pickled daikon and carrot, and/or condiments like mayo, cheese, or chilis. You can customize this recipe by adding any non-traditional ingredients you like, but this combination is tried (by me) and true, so I absolutely recommend it if you know what’s good for you.
Also, if you’re one of those weird people that think cilantro tastes like soap… first of all, I feel really bad for you, but if you’re really gonna be like that you can leave it out of the recipe. But… don’t, OK? Also, for all the tofu haters out there, give it a chance because this sandwich just might convert you. And you can thank me later.
Prep Time | 10 minutes
Cook Time | 7 mins
- 2 french sandwich rolls
- 1 package firm tofu
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 2 tbsp mayo or vegenaise
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass, outer layer removed, chopped or sliced into rings
- 1 jalapeño, sliced into very thin rings
- 1 avocado
- 2 medium carrots
- small daikon radish
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 leaves romaine lettuce
Julienne the peeled carrots and daikon by cutting them into sticks or shredding. Place in plastic bag with ¼ cup vinegar and 1 tsp sugar. Shake to coat and allow to sit while you prepare the rest.
Create marinade for tofu by combining olive oil, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger. Cut tofu into about ½-inch planks and gently coat in the marinade.
Cut the sandwich rolls so that they open up like a hot dog bun. Toast until warmed through and blistered on the outside. You may choose to hollow out the center if the bread is very dense.
Place a large pan on medium-high heat and spoon some of the tofu marinade into the pan (I try to leave the pieces of lemongrass behind). Add tofu planks to pan and cook, flipping once, until brown on both sides, about 7 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a paper plate lined with a paper towel
To assemble sandwich, add mayo on one side of bread and sliced avocado on the other. Line the bread with romaine lettuce and stuff with the pickled veggies (squeeze out excess liquid), some cilantro, jalapeno, and 4 pieces of tofu.
Cut sandwich in half to serve. Enjoy with a Vietnamese iced coffee or tea!