A Tofu Banh Mi is maybe one of my favourite sandwiches ever, and I’ve packed this vegan version with sweet and salty hoisin-glazed tofu, spicy quick-pickled veggies and lots of refreshing herbs. This vegan tofu Banh Mi Recipe is great for meal prep – in just a few steps, you can seriously upgrade your usual lunchtime sandwich all week long.
When I was backpacking in Vietnam in the early 2000s, it wasn’t super easy to eat vegetarian, let alone vegan. There were two go-to meals I ate pretty much every day for the week I was there: a deep-fried tofu + tomato dish, and a Banh Mi stuffed with La Vache Qui Rit (Laughing Cow) cheese. So I’ve partnered with my friends at Silver Hills Bakery once again to give my own plant-based, nutrient-dense spin on this beloved sandwich.
What is a Banh Mi?
Banh Mi sandwiches are a ubiquitous street food in Vietnam. They are typically served on baguettes, which is a clue to their French colonial origins…but the story isn’t quite what you might expect. In this excellent article on the history of the Banh Mi, I learned that the Banh Mi sandwich was born in response to the defeat of French rule, in the late 1950’s in Saigon.
How to make a Vegan Banh Mi
A banh mi typically has the following components:
- Salty seasoning like soy sauce or Maggi
- Pickled vegetables
- A protein
In this vegan tofu banh mi recipe, I’m using protein + fibre rich Silver Hills Sprouted Grain bread to create a filling and nutrient-dense sandwich that will keep you energized for hours. Sprouted grain breads are made without flour, and sprouting helps improve digestibility of the plant-based minerals found in whole grain wheat.
We’re filling this sandwich with hoisin-glazed tofu for even more plant power. Calcium-set tofu is an excellent source of bone building calcium along with protein and iron to keep you feeling energized.
I also love using herbs in my cooking – cilantro and mint add a special flavour that really elevates the sandwich. However, if you don’t love them, just substitute for whatever you have on hand, such as flat leaf parsley or basil.
Andrea Nguyen literally wrote the book on Banh Mi – she talks about its traditional components in this piece if you want to learn more about what goes into these delicious sandwiches.
More Yummy Vegan Sandwiches
Vegan Tofu Banh Mi Recipe
Tangy, sweet, salty and spicy, this Vegan Tofu Banh Mi has it all! You can make the tofu and pickles ahead of time, making it a great meal prep option. This filling and flavourful sandwich is packed with plant-based protein and fibre to keep you energized for hours.
Servings: 4 sandwiches
- 8 slices Silver Hills Mack’s Flax Sprouted Grain Bread toasted
- 1 340g package extra firm tofu
- 1 cup cilantro leaves
- 4 inch piece cucumber finely sliced or shaved on a mandoline
- ½ cup mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or avocado oil
- ¼ teaspoon five spice powder
- 2 cups firm veggies such as parsnip, carrot, daikon, kohlrabi grated, mandolined, or cut into matchsticks
- 1 cup rice vinegar
- 1 jalapeño, with or without seeds sliced
- 2 teaspoons cane sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- vegan mayo
- Sriracha-style hot sauce
Start by making the pickled veggies: pack the vegetables and jalapeño slices into a 500ml mason jar or resealable container. Sprinkle the sugar and salt over the veggies and then pour over the vinegar. Place the lid on the jar and shake up the mixture. If you can, let it sit for an hour – or you can make this in advance, it will keep well for five days in the fridge.
Slice the tofu into two equal squares. Then, take each square and cut horizontally into 2 thinner squares. In a small bowl, mix the hoisin and five spice. Brush the tofu with the hoisin mixture on both sides.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp avocado oil over medium heat. Fry the tofu until it’s browned on both sides – about 3-4 min a side. If you want a more intense hoisin flavour, you can give the cooked slices an extra brush with hoisin once cooked – or add a bit to the bread!
To assemble the sandwiches, spread both sides of the toast with a bit of mayo and a drizzle of sriracha. Add some pickled veggies, squeezing extra moisture out if you’ve grated them. Then add a slice of tofu, some cucumbers and a little handful of mint and cilantro.