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Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Banh mi

May 1, 2014

On Thursday morning I had a dinner plan and a shopping list to match. But at lunch time someone was talking up a new banh mi on the menu at the Vegie Bar, and I was reminded of the pork roll I'd enjoyed at Buddha's Day the previous weekend. Suddenly I really, really wanted banh mi for dinner.

There've been a few veg-friendly recipes for it in my feedly lately, and I picked out Vegan Dad's version. I cut a few corners, letting the tofu marinate and carrots pickle for just two hours rather than overnight. With lots of purple carrots (and no daikon) in the vege box, my pickle was a lot pinker, but it had the same sweetness. The star anise infusion added a surprising and very welcome depth.

These rolls were a delightful dinner. The warm tofu was enough to provide a bit of comfort on a cold night, even in amongst all that watery salad (I'd snuck some extra leftover lettuce and grated beetroot on the unphotographed rolls). The meal finished with a debate about whether it would be more fun to eat seconds right then, or save the remainder for lunch the next day. We all felt mighty smug when noon rolled around on Friday.

Tofu banh mi
(adapted slightly from Vegan Dad)

marinated tofu
500g firm tofu
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

carrot pickle
2/3 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 medium carrots, shredded with a vege peeler
1 whole star anise

6 long rolls
vegan mayonnaise
1 cucumber, shredded with a vege peeler
fresh coriander, roughly chopped
fresh red chilli, sliced

Slice the tofu into rectangles, no more than 1cm thick (I made about 9 slices). Place all of the remaining marinade ingredients in a large baking dish and whisk them together with a fork. Lay the tofu rectangles in the marinade, allowing them to soak it up for at least 30 minutes on each side.

Place the vinegar, water and sugar in a small-medium saucepan and bring them to the boil. Stir in the ginger. Gently add in the carrot, get it submerged and bring it all to the boil again. Take the pickle off the heat and add the star anise. Allow it to cool and infuse for at least an hour.

Preheat an oven to 200°C. Bake the tofu in the baking dish for 20-25 minutes, flipping it over at the 10 minute mark. When it's done, it should have soaked up all the marinade. Slice the tofu pieces diagonally into triangles.

Slice the rolls longways and spread one side with mayonnaise. Arrange tofu triangles over the mayonnaise, then layer up some drained carrot, cucumber, coriander and chilli, to taste. Close the sandwich and nom. Make the other five if you have to, or let your co-diners fend for themselves.


  1. Oh man, this sounds so good. Lunch next weekend is sorted!

  2. Banh mi is genius food. Andrea Nyguen from Viet world blog has written an entire book on banh mi and she has a few excellent vegetarian alternatives on her blog.

    1. Hi Elizabeth! That is cool, I think banh mi are totally deserving of an entire book. :-)

  3. Nhu Lan on Victoria St does the best tofu banh mi! Following them I'd recommend adding crushed peanuts, fried shallots, and maybe a spoonful of hoi sin. But each to their own

    1. Thanks for the tip, Olaf! Those toppings all appeal to me, and I think we even have them stocked at home.