If you’ve never had one, the traditional Vietnamese sandwich, or bánh mì, is the happy result of the French introducing the baguette in Vietnam (during a not-so-happy colonial period) and the Vietnamese co-opting it for their own purposes. Once you’ve had one, your life will never be the same.
My introduction to them came back in the day, when I was working in an office in a downtown building in a city where there was a little hole-in-the-wall bánh mì joint around the corner. Once introduced by a colleague, I was hooked, and it became my go-to lunch destination. Not only were they exquisitely delicious, but they were super cheap.
It also didn’t hurt that the main river flowing through downtown was a block away and I could go sit on a bench in the sun and devour my sandwich while enjoying a beautiful and much needed respite from crappy fluorescence and cubicles. But, I digress…
Of course, traditionally, the sandwiches come with some sort of meat as a core ingredient. That being said, most places will also have a simple vegetable version and a tofu option (though you’ll have to ask them to hold the mayo).
Prep time: 20 minutes
- 1 sourdough baguette
- 1/2 package organic firm tofu sliced into slim rectangles
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- Splash of Bragg’s aminos
- 1 tsp hoisin sauce
- Condiments (of your choice):
- Sriracha sauce
- Hoisin sauce
- Purple cabbage, shredded
- Romaine lettuce, shredded
- Red onion, thinly sliced
- Carrot, grated
- Cucumber, sliced or grated
- Bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange), thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- Pinch of thyme
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a pan on medium-low; add the tofu slices and cook, turning over after a few minutes until both sides are browned; add a splash of Bragg’s, stir to mix, and cook for another minute; turn off heat, transfer tofu to a bowl, and mix in hoisin sauce.
- Slice the baguette into portion-sized pieces and then slice open lengthwise without cutting all the way through (leaving the two sides connected along the length).
- Spread on the condiments of your choice. If you have a good crusty sourdough, go to town on the condiments as you’ll end up with a delicious mess by the end of your sandwich. Also, bánh mì is meant to have some bite, so don’t scrimp on the sriracha.
- Add layers of tofu, veggies of your choice, and herbs.
- Drizzle with dressing.
- Squish the sandwich together, pushing everything in with a fork if need be (and you should need to do this), then wrap in something (foil, parchment paper, etc.) so that it doesn’t explode on you halfway through your Cookie Monsteresque consumption.