Traditional recipes

Spicy Tofu Banh Mi Sandwiches

Spicy Tofu Banh Mi Sandwiches

Served on crunchy bread and piled high with ingredients, Spicy Tofu Banh Mi is a great sandwich to enjoy on a leisurely afternoon. Whether you spice it up or dial it down just a bit, this is a filling sandwich you can really wrap your hands around.


You can use any type of crunchy bread for this sandwich. If you prefer a sandwich that is less spicy, don't use as much garlic chili paste or hot sauce for the mayonnaise.


  • 4 Ounces baked tofu, cut into cubes
  • 1 12-inch French-style baguette, sliced in two, then sliced in half horizontally
  • 2 large radishes, sliced thin with a mandolin
  • 1/4 Cup cucumbers, sliced thin with a mandolin
  • 1/2 Cup carrot, cut into matchstick pieces
  • 1/4 small jalapeno pepper, cut into thin slices
  • 1/3 Cup rice wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 3 Teaspoons honey (or sugar)
  • 1/8 Cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 Cup mayonnaise
  • Juice from half a lime
  • 1/2 Teaspoon garlic chili paste (or another type of hot sauce)


Calories Per Serving709

Folate equivalent (total)277µg69%

Riboflavin (B2)0.7mg41.9%

Tofu Banh Mi Sandwich

Have you ever dreamed of the perfect vegan sandwich? Here it is! A recipe and guide how to make the most delicious Tofu Banh Mi Sandwich.

It’s perfect for lunch, dinner, your next party, or even as a meal prep for lunch at the office. Do you see how tasty it looks with the sauce drizzling out of the sandwich? No wonder I have this deep love for Asian food.

Meatless Monday: Spicy (tofu) banh mi sandwiches

This recipe for spicy banh mi sandwiches is made with tofu, tastes delicious and is also something you can personalize. Since this version is a bit spicy, you can take the seasonings into your own hands, then wrap them around this filling sandwich!

  • It’s an excellent source of protein
  • It’s low in calories and sodium
  • It’s a cholesterol-free food
  • It’s a great source of calcium and iron

All hands on!

Wondering if a sandwich is filling enough for a Meatless Monday meal? The answer is yes if you’re making spicy tofu banh mi sandwiches! Served on thick, crusty bread and piled high with veggies and tofu, you’ll have your hands &mdash and tummies &mdash full with this sandwich.

Try this Meatless Monday fried egg and grilled asparagus sandwich >

Made for each other

The ingredients of this sandwich are complementary &mdash spicy and sweet, crunchy and soft, hot and cool &mdash and are great for a meatless meal. Pork is a typical ingredient for banh mi, but you won’t miss the swap with preseasoned and baked tofu.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 (14-ounce) package water-packed firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • ⅓ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ¼ cups (3-inch) matchstick-cut carrot
  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushroom caps
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 julienne-cut green onion
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 (12-ounce) loaf French bread
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced

Cut tofu crosswise into 8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices. Arrange tofu on several layers of paper towels. Top with several more layers of paper towels top with a cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan. Let stand 30 minutes. Remove tofu from paper towels.

Combine soy sauce and ginger in a 13 x 9&ndashinch baking dish. Arrange tofu slices in a single layer in soy mixture. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight, turning once.

Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring until sugar and salt dissolve. Add carrot and next 4 ingredients (through cucumber) toss well. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain carrot mixture through a sieve drain thoroughly.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove tofu from marinade discard marinade. Pat tofu slices dry with paper towels. Add tofu slices to pan sauté 4 minutes on each side or until crisp and golden.

Cut bread in half lengthwise. Open halves, laying bread cut side up on a baking sheet. Broil 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Place tofu slices on bottom half of bread top with carrot mixture, cilantro, and jalapeño slices. Top with top half of bread. Cut loaf crosswise into 6 equal pieces.

Wine note: The herbaceous quality of Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2007 ($11) echoes the jalapeño peppers and green onions in our Tofu Banh Mi, while the wine's lemony acidity helps it stand up to the rice vinegar&ndashpickled vegetables. &mdashJeffery Lindenmuth

Crispy Tofu Bánh Mì

The classic Vietnamese bánh mì (you know, roast pork, spicy mayo and pickled veggies) is already high on our list of favorite sandwiches, but Erin McDowell&rsquos crispy tofu bánh mì is upping the ante.

&ldquoI love all the textures going on in a traditional bánh mì,&rdquo McDowell tells us, &ldquoso here I made the tofu really crispy for contrast. What I love about bánh mì is that there&rsquos already so much flavor, so you can keep the protein relatively simple and focus on the toppings.&rdquo

And about those toppings: &ldquoAfter you drain the vegetables out of the vinegar for the sandwiches, you can save that vinegar for dressings,&rdquo she says. &ldquoSharp pickled vegetables, spicy rich mayonnaise, tons of herbs? You can&rsquot go wrong. Add some crispy tofu and you&rsquove got the ideal meatless entrée.&rdquo

Pickled Vegetables

2 medium carrots, peeled and very thinly sliced into rounds

3 Persian cucumbers, very thinly sliced into rounds

1 bunch radishes, ends trimmed and very thinly sliced into rounds

1 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar

Crispy Tofu

1 pound firm tofu, drained and sliced into 8 even slices

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1¼ cups panko bread crumbs

2 tablespoons neutral oil (such as vegetable, coconut or peanut)

Flaky salt (such as Maldon), as needed for finishing

½ cup mayonnaise (preferably Kewpie)

¼ cup sriracha, plus more as needed

4 mini baguettes (or 1 large baguette cut into 4 pieces), halved lengthwise

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves

½ cup thinly sliced scallions

¼ cup thinly sliced jalapeños

1. Make the Pickled Vegetables: In a medium bowl, toss together the carrot, cucumber and radish slices, then pack tightly into a quart-size heat-safe container.

2. In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar and salt over medium heat until the salt is dissolved, then pour over the vegetables. Seal the container and refrigerate, shaking or stirring occasionally, until fully chilled, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

3. Make the Crispy Tofu: Sandwich the tofu slices between several layers of kitchen towels and press firmly on each slice to remove as much moisture as possible.

4. In a shallow bowl, stir together the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper. In another shallow bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. In a third shallow bowl, stir together the panko and sesame seeds.

5. Working one at a time, dip each piece of tofu into the flour mixture until fully coated. Then dip each piece into the egg mixture until lightly but fully coated, shaking off any excess. Finally, dip each piece in the panko-sesame mixture to coat.

6. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the tofu and cook undisturbed until evenly golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Season with flaky salt while the tofu is still hot.

7. Assemble the Bánh Mì: In a medium bowl, stir the mayonnaise and sriracha to combine. Spread a thin layer on both cut sides of each mini baguette. On one side of the bread, layer about ¼ cup of drained pickled vegetables, and on the other side, layer the cilantro, basil, scallions and jalapeños. Place a piece of tofu on top of the pickled vegetables, then place the other half of the bread on top and press firmly to seal the sandwiches.

Step-by-step instructions

Step 1: Make the pickled vegetables. Add the sliced vegetables to a bowl or jar, then pour the vinegar overtop. Let the vegetables sit for at least 10 minutes, or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

The longer they sit, the more fermented they'll be. But, if you're in a hurry, 10 minutes will do!

Step 2: Cook the tofu. Add the sliced tofu to a bag with coconut aminos and cornstarch. Shake the bag so that the tofu is coated, then place it into a skillet with a little oil and fry the tofu on all sides until it's crispy, about 5 minutes.

Then, pour the sauce into the skillet and stir the tofu around until it's coated in the sauce.

Step 3: Assemble the sandwich. Spread vegan mayo on half of the baguette, then top it with the marinated tofu and pickled veggies, cilantro, and sriracha

Tofu banh mi

Julienning vegetables doesn’t have to be time-consuming – I use a julienne peeler like this one to make thin strips in seconds for the carrot and courgette pickles.

Prep 20 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 2

For the pickles
1 small carrot, peeled (100g net)
½ courgette (100g net)
100ml white-wine vinegar
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
½ tsp salt

For the tofu
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
280g extra-firm tofu, very finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor, until mince-like
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 bird’s eye chilli, finely sliced
1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
2 tsp soy sauce (or tamari)

To serve
2 baguettes
4 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
3 tbsp coriander leaves
3 tbsp mint leaves

First make the pickles. Julienne the carrot and courgette, and put them in a bowl. Put the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over a high heat, bring to a boil, then pour immediately over the sliced veg. Toss, then place a piece of baking paper on top of the vegetables, press down to keep them submerged, then set aside to cool.

For the tofu, heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over a medium-high heat and add the tofu. Fry for five minutes, tossing and turning every minute or so, until it starts to colour at the edges. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli, fry for a minute more, then stir in the five spice and soy sauce. Add three tablespoons of the pickling liquor to the pan, then fry for a further five minutes, until you have a dark, rich tofu mince.

To assemble the banh mi, cut open a baguette, making sure not to slice all the way through. Tear out some of the fluffy insides, if you wish, then smear the bottom half of the baguette with two tablespoons of mayonnaise. Top with half the tofu mince, add half the pickles and then half the herbs, and repeat with the second baguette. Carefully close the breads and enjoy immediately.

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Tofu banh mi

So, just when I thought my “flu” was over, it turned into mega-head cold 2012 and is currently rocking my socks off still. You know those viruses that seem to move from body part to body part, attacking each one as they go? Yeah, me too. How’s the weather? I haven’t left my house in days. However, I feel like today is going to be my lucky day because today, friends, marks the return of Private Practice and Grey’s Anatomy. It’s a good sign, don’t you think?

Anyhoo, I gathered all the hand sanitizer, zinc and emergen-c immune support around me and then made these sandwiches.

You see, there comes a point when you just can’t stomach another spoonful of chicken soup (no matter how good it is!) and need some bread and homemade fig newtons in your sick life. And that’s where I’m at.

Banh Mi is a type of Vietnamese sandwich that’s typically made with pork and covered with cilantro, red onion, mayonnaise and, my favorite, sriracha sauce. Apparently they are all the rage! And by all the rage, I mean I spotted a hip new banh mi “cafe” in downtown San Francisco. Believe it.

My version uses tofu and is just as delicious—even if you are a self proclaimed tofu hater (the horror!). The secret is using extra firm tofu then baking it with a variety of oils and spices. The texture changes from “ew tofu!” to “hmmm I kinda like this thing”.

After the tofu is baked and is crispy and delicious, it’s nestled on chewy French bread with all the fixins’.

Extra sriracha for me, please!! I adore that stuff.

It’s nothing fancy, but the flavors work so perfectly that this will be a sandwich you’ll crave time and time again. Especially with a drizzle of sweet chili sauce! It’s spicy, sweet and refreshing (cucumber!) all at the same time. Genius. Pure genius.

And you say you don’t like tofu………hah.

Tofu Banh Mi

makes enough for 6 sandwiches


2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)

3 large French baguettes or small personal sized baguettes

2 cucumbers, thinly sliced lengthwise

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cover a sheet tray with tin foil sprayed with cooking spray.

In a large dish, whisk together the tamari, sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, salt, red pepper flakes and maple syrup. Slice tofu into thin (1/4th inch) slices and drench in sauce. Lay each piece of tofu flat on the tin foil then bake for 30 minutes, flipping each slice midway through.

After tofu has been baked, prepare sandwiches. Slice baguettes and smear half lightly with mayonnaise. Lay two slices of tofu on top of mayonnaise covered bread, then squirt sriracha sauce directly on tofu, followed by a little sweet chili sauce. Layer on torn cilantro, broccoli slaw, thin slices of onion and cucumber, followed by another squirt of sriracha (depending on how spicy you like it!).

Serve sandwiches with additional sweet chili sauce and/or sriracha sauce on the side.

Spicy Tofu Banh Mi Sandwiches - Recipes

Like many people, I love bánh mì sandwiches and almost always order one when I eat at Vietnamese restaurants, including from the beloved Brooklyn spot right around the corner from Cup of Jo’s office, that I miss so much it hurts. But I could never quite replicate the sandwich at home. Until last week, when I made the one you’re looking at above for a perfect summer dinner…

In Vietnamese, the term bánh mì means “sandwich,” but it also means “bread,” and according to Andrea Nguyen, author of Vietnamese Food Any Day, they are inextricably linked. “When you bite into one, you’re eating Vietnamese history and culture,” she told me. “The French introduced bread, butter, mayonnaise and pate plus Maggi — which is part of the signature bánh mì flavor for me — and resourceful Viet cooks ran with it all to create something of their own.”

The run-with-it-philosophy is central to assembling a bánh mì, which checks every box on the Ideal Sandwich Checklist — sweet, hot, pickled, creamy, crunchy — if you follow the traditional framework. “That’s Vietnamese food and cooking,” she says. “Know the rules, then create something of your own.” In her book, Nguyen lays out that framework which goes something like this:

Bread (light and airy) + Fat (choose one: mayo, butter, or fork-smashed avocado) + Seasoning (choose one: Maggi, liquid aminos, or soy sauce) + Filling (choose one: tofu, fried eggs, grilled chicken or pork) + Vegetables (choose all or some: pickles, chiles, cucumber strips, fresh cilantro, mint, or basil)

Even though the resulting flavor is riotously complex, let me be very clear that with this loose guide, the making of one is not at all. (I mean, it’s a sandwich, right?) Once I committed to my preferred combination — tofu, mayo, pickles, cucumbers and cilantro — I realized that there were only two components that required actual prepping, Nguyen’s Sriracha Tofu and her “Any Day” Viet pickles. (And FWIW, both can be prepared ahead of time.) When those two were ready to go, dinner became a strict assembly job.

Below are the exact instructions for that version, but this weekend we’re planning on one made with chicken, avocado, chiles, pickles and mint. Maybe next we’ll go with fried eggs, butter, Maggi, pickles and cilantro? It feels like you can hardly go wrong and according to Nguyen, it’s the easy customization that makes them so appealing. “It’s a super exciting, nimble sandwich,” she says. “And that’s my favorite food group.”

Step 1: Make “Any Day” Viet Pickles

12 ounces red radishes, unpeeled and sliced into 1/8-inch thick rounds
One 6-ounce carrot, halved and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar, plus 1/2 cup
1 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar (preferably Heinz)
1 cup lukewarm water

In a mixing bowl, toss the vegetables with the salt and 2 teaspoons sugar, let sit 10 minutes to soften. Then rinse with water, Drain in a mesh strainer or colander and press or shake to expel water. Transfer to a jar.

In a medium bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar with the vinegar, 1 cup water until dissolved. Pour enough of the liquid into the jar to cover the vegetables, discard any excess, and let sit for 1 hour. Use immediately, or refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Step 2: Make Sriracha Tofu

10 to 12 ounces super-firm tofu
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos, Maggi Seasoning Sauce (in a pinch you can use soy sauce)
2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons sriracha
1 tablespoon canola or neutral oil

Cut the tofu into batons as shown. (You should have about 10 to 12 pieces.) In a large nonstick skillet, combine the water, liquid aminos (or Maggi) and sriracha and stir to mix. Add the tofu and turn several times, then arrange flat in the skillet for maximum exposure to the seasonings. Set the skillet over medium heat and when bubbling begins, after about 2 minutes, use chopsticks or a silicone spatula to flip the tofu. Continue cooking to allow the seasonings to concentrate and stick to the tofu. When little liquid remains in the pan, about 2 minutes, drizzle 1 1/2 teaspoons of the canola oil over the tofu. Shake the pan to dislodge the tofu and flip the pieces again.

Let the tofu gently sizzle for 3 to 4 minutes to dry out and brown. Midway through the cooking, when the underside is mottled orange or maybe browned, drizzle on the remaining canola oil and flip the tofu. The finished tofu will have an orange-brown color with some dark brown spots. Transfer the tofu to a rack and allow it to cool and dry before using.

Step 3: Make Your Tofu Bánh mì Sandwich

A few more rules from Nguyen before you put everything together: Don’t get fancy bread. Head to the supermarket, supermercado or a bodega — the best bread for banh mi has a thin crust, possesses a cottony interior, tastes faintly sweet and is often commonplace. After heating your bread or rolls, you’ll want to remove some of the interior with your fingers to reduce the doughiness. You don’t want the bread to fight with what’s inside. Lastly: Don’t overstuff your sandwich with protein. A balanced banh mi resembles a salad in a sandwich: The visual ratio is 1:1 or 1:2. This recipe makes 4 sandwiches

4 light airy rolls or hand-span sections of French baguettes (see note above)
4 tablespoons mayonnaise, mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons sriracha
10 to 12 sriracha tofu batons (see recipe above)
1 cup Any Day Viet Pickles (see recipe above)
drizzle of Maggi seasoning sauce (or Bragg Liquid Aminos or soy sauce)
1 small cucumber (enough for 4 to 6 rounds per sandwich), the kind you don’t have to peel
generous handful fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

If the bread is soft, rub the crust with wet hands to moisten and then crisp in a 350°F oven (or toaster oven) for about 7 minutes. Otherwise bake it at 325°F for 3 to 6 minutes. Let it cool, then slice open horizontally, leaving a “hinge” on one side. Hollow out some of the inside to make room for your fillings.

Spread mayo on each of the two sides of the bread, covering all the way to the edges. Stuff with tofu, pickles, a drizzle of Maggi seasoning sauce, cucumbers and cilantro.

The bánh mì recipe (including the pickles and tofu) are inspired by or excerpted with permission from Ten Speed Press, publishers of Vietnamese Food Any Day by Andrea Nguyen. For more Andrea, follow her on Instagram.

(Photograph of Andrea Nguyen by Aubrie Pick. Others by Jenny Rosenstrach.)