This Vietnamese sandwich recipe is stuffed full of crispy tofu, vinegary pickled veggies, and spicy sriracha. Enjoy this vegan banh mi for a filling lunch or dinner using our easy tofu banh mi recipe.
Tofu is a mainstay in most vegan diets, and with good reason - it's inexpensive, high in protein and minerals, and is a little easier to find than some lesser-known vegan proteins, like tempeh.
That's why we created this mouth-watering tofu banh mi recipe. The Vietnamese culture is known for these delicious banh mi sandwiches. Banh mi gained popularity in the 1800s when French colonists introduced the Vietnamese people to their French baguette. The banh mi baguette is a fluffy bread sliced in half and stuffed with various savory ingredients.
Banh mi often contains chicken breast paté, pork sausage, or pork tenderloin. However, we've replaced the animal protein with extra-firm tofu for a delicious vegan alternative while still delivering a flavor punch.
This sandwich is even more delicious if you pickle the banh mi vegetables ahead of time. The tangy pickled veggies keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and develop a more substantial taste the longer they sit in the acidic brine.
How to Make Homemade Banh Mi
Ingredients for the sandwich:
- 14 oz of firm or extra-firm tofu
- extra-virgin olive oil for cooking
- 4 baguette pieces, sliced in halves
- Vegan mayo, to taste
- 2-3 fresh sprigs of cilantro
- Sriracha, to taste
Ingredients for the pickled veggies:
- 1 small daikon, julienned
- 2 small carrots, julienned
- ½ small cucumber, seeded & julienned
- ½ fresh jalapeño, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup of rice vinegar
- Pinch of sugar, to taste
- Pinch of salt, to taste
Ingredients for the tofu marinade:
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
- ½ lime, juiced + a little zest
- 1 fresh garlic clove, minced
- ½ tsp fresh ginger, minced
- Black pepper, to taste
Directions for pickled vegetables for banh mi:
- Place the carrots, daikon, cucumbers, and jalapeños in a medium-sized glass jar. Top with both kinds of vinegar, sugar, and salt.*
- Cover the jar and chill for at least an hour. You can store it in the fridge for up to a week.
*If the liquid doesn’t fully cover the veggies, add 2 Tbsp filtered water and more vinegar, if necessary.
Directions for the tofu and marinade:
- Press your extra-firm tofu in a tofu press for 20 min.
- Slice the drained tofu into 1/2-inch thick slices.
- Place the banh mi tofu on a clean, dry towel and gently pat it dry to remove excess water.
- In a small-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, tamari, lime juice, lime zest, garlic, ginger, and black pepper.
- Place the dried tofu in a shallow pan and pour your marinade on top.
- Turn the tofu until fully coated, adding more tamari or soy sauce as necessary. Let your tofu marinate for a minimum of 15 min.
- Heat a nonstick, medium-sized skillet to medium-high heat and preheat a splash of cooking oil.
- Place the marinated tofu pieces in the pan with enough space between each to avoid overcrowding.*
- Without disturbing the tofu slices too often, let them cook for a few minutes per side.
- Cook until the tofu is deeply golden brown and caramelized around the edges.
- Remove the tofu from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
*You can fry the tofu in batches if necessary.
Directions for assembling the banh mi sandwich:
- Toast your baguette slices beforehand if you like your sandwich toasted.
- Assemble your fried tofu sandwich with the baguette, mayo, tofu slices, pickled veggies, cilantro, and serve topped with sriracha.
- Serve and enjoy your tofu sandwiches!
This healthy banh mi recipe contains a variety of ingredients, so feel free to have fun trying out some of your other favorite sandwich toppings, too!
Nutrition information - tofu banh mi
Calories 593 kcal; Fat 25g; Carbohydrates 75g; Dietary Fiber 5.1g; Sugars 31g; Protein 21g.
Tofu Banh Mi Sandwich Tips and FAQ
What is banh mi?
The term "banh mi" translates to "bread" and refers to a short, crusty Vietnamese baguette. This popular Vietnamese street food originated in Saigon.
In the mid-1800s, Vietnam was a part of French Indochina. French settlers introduced the Vietnamese to their French baguette and paté, which both quickly became popular. Because the price of importing wheat to Vietnam was high, the Vietnamese started mixing rice flour into their recipes instead. The result was a fluffier banh mi, the Vietnamese baguette.
Eat banh mi plain, or stuff this sandwich with meat like pork sausage, marinated meat, paté, fresh cilantro, pickled daikon. The banh mi sauce is typically a combination of chili and mayonnaise.
Banh mi pickles
You'll likely end up with some pickled veggies leftover after creating your Vietnamese tofu sandwich. Their flavor is tangy and straightforward, so you can put them on pretty much anything - from your next batch of banh mi to rice bowls, salads, or a homemade charcuterie board.
These pickles stay fresh in the fridge for up to 2 weeks in a sealed jar.
Do I have to press the tofu before frying?
Tofu pressing is an essential step in the preparation process you shouldn't skip. When it comes to making sandwiches, sogginess is the kiss of death. Tofu has high water content and requires pressing and draining before cooking it.
Press your tofu in a press like this one for the best results. It cuts pressing time down to 20 minutes, so it's a worthwhile investment if you often cook with tofu.
If you don't own a press, wrap the tofu block in a dry towel and press between two heavy plates or cutting boards. Leave it to sit for 2-3 hours.
What kind of tofu do I need for this recipe?
The only tofu that works for this recipe is firm or extra-firm. Silken, soft, and regular tofu all contain far too much water and won't get crispy enough for your banh mi sandwich.
The more delicate types of tofu won’t hold up to the high temperatures of pan-frying.
Can I make banh mi gluten-free?
"Banh mi" means bread, so it's tough to make a gluten-free version that's as good as the original. Bake or buy a crusty gluten-free baguette. We suggest heading to a gluten-free bakery that specializes in making bread and other treats without gluten.
Check your labels and ensure your soy sauce does not contain gluten.
Is tofu good for you?
Eating a moderate amount of tofu can be very good for your health. Plant-based protein like tofu is super low in unhealthy saturated fat commonly found in animal proteins.
It contains all nine essential amino acids, crucial nutritional building blocks that humans cannot create within their bodies. Tofu also has high levels of minerals, like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
As with all foods, moderation is key to a well-balanced diet.
How long does banh mi last in the fridge?
An assembled tofu banh mi sandwich, like any other tofu sandwich recipe, does not keep well in the fridge. The bread gets soggy quickly, so don't pre-assemble these sandwiches until you're ready to eat them.
The ingredients for this tofu banh mi sandwich store well in the fridge separately. You can make your pickles up to 2 weeks ahead of time, and the pan-fried tofu lasts up to 5 days.
Reheat your tofu in a pan right before you serve, or you can put the cooked tofu on your sandwich cold; it's tasty either way!
Final Thoughts on Our Tofu Banh Mi Sandwich
These sandwiches are delicious, easy to make, and packed with protein for vegans and meat-eaters alike to enjoy. Plant-based protein is excellent for everyone to incorporate into their diets a little more.
Choose to pickle different veggies for this sandwich, like onions and peppers instead of daikon and carrot. Shitake or cremini mushrooms, fresh sliced avocado, and chopped green onions would make delicious additions to this banh mi sandwich.
Amp up the tofu's flavor by adding extra dried chilies into the marinade, and switch out the sriracha for other hot sauces to experience a different taste.
We hope you love these banh mi sandwiches as much as we do. Bookmark this page so you can create vegan banh mi!