Tofu Banh Mi

by byn on May 24, 2012

in Vegetarian

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We now present a dinner six months in the making. Here’s my personal history with Banh Mi:

1. October 24, 2011: Mindy Kaling’s website. This was my first time hearing about Banh Mi. Mindy is basically my life role model (love her humour, fashion, style), so I was intrigued by her love of Banh Mi, but not yet motivated to investigate further. I appreciated how she broke down all the components for the home cook, including using a rotisserie chicken “torn into pieces like a junkyard dog”.

2. December 2011: January issue of Bon Appetit. In a feature called “25 Things to Eat, Drink, and Cook in 2012”, Banh Mi makes the list at #2, grouped together with other Asian-inspired subs like Mo, Nizami rolls, and Ssam. I studied the components a little more closely, and they all sounded good to me (this one had: toasted semolina flour roll, pulled pork, pickled carrots, thinly sliced cucumber, chili mayo, cilantro and spiced honey).

3. December 19, 2011: The Grid. Okay, now there’s a whole restaurant devoted to these sandwiches? Banh Mi Boys gets added to the post-it on my cubicle wall entitled: EAT.

4. January 17, 2012: The Gabardine. Sandra and I went to The Gabardine for a belated birthday dinner at the very beginning of the year. I took note of the two different versions of Banh Mi they offer, another one with tofu and one with pulled pork. Not there yet; I ordered the grilled cheese with caramelized onions. Yum.

6. March 18, 2012: I can’t remember what triggered this, but I looked up Banh Mi on Wikipedia, and tweeted that I did so. The More You Know.

7. April 5, 2012: The Gabardine {revisited}. My co-worker and I went to The Gabardine for brunch lunch (Note: might as well be brunch as you have to arrive by 11:15 to get a table). Armed with six months of hype, I ordered their Tofu Banh Mi, which comes with chinese BBQ sauce aka Hoisin Sauce, which I have in my fridge at home at all times. The other components are pickled cabbage (kimchi), carrots and cilantro. It was sweet, sour, spicy, chewy and crunchy all at the same time. I loved every bite.

7. April 7, 2012: Patent and the Pantry. My friend Gwendolyn made a version with pork meatballs. She also provided recipes for the chili mayo and pickled carrots. I put my plan in motion, as I now believed I could make this myself.

8. April 18, 2012. Here we go. With a few adjustments, I would say this is almost *exactly* what I ate at The Gabardine. You can see my components below: pickled carrots, cilantro, thinly sliced cucumber, pan-fried tofu with hoisin sauce, and sriracha mayo. I also made a sesame coleslaw from Shutterbean, which was a perfect side. It was worth the six month build-up, and I’m pretty excited that I can make this at home.

Tofu Banh Mi

Source: Inspired by The Gabardine, other components from Patent and the Pantry.

Yield: as much or as little as you need, these are just guidelines


– for the picked carrots: thinly sliced carrots, sugar, rice vinegar

– for the chili mayo: sriracha, mayo

– thinly sliced cucumber

– chopped cilantro

– fresh baguette, sliced, with a little bit of the bread pulled out if you want

– extra-firm tofu, cut into thin slices + hoisin sauce


  1. Get the carrots going first, by slicing them into matchsticks, and soaking then in equal parts sugar and rice vinegar, with a pinch or so of salt. Let sit for an hour while you prep everything else.
  2. Stir up your mayo next, Gwendolyn advises about a 1/2 tbsp of sriracha per 1/3 cup of mayo. Let that sit too.
  3. Slice the cucumber, chop the cilantro, get your bread ready.
  4. For the tofu, I just cut mine into thin slices, and pan-fried it in a non-stick skillet with non-stick spray until heated through and lightly browned, then brushed hoisin sauce on both sides and let that get bubbly.
  5. To assemble, spread the chili mayo on your baguette, then the tofu, then the veggies and cilantro. Dive in!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

kokostanley May 29, 2012 at 11:17 pm

I LOVE Banh Mi!!! So good


frugalfeeding May 25, 2012 at 3:07 am

Blimey! I’m surprised you remember all that – I wouldn’t have :D. It sounds really yummy – glad you finally found what you were looking for in banh me :D.


emmycooks May 24, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Yum, this looks amazing! And I’m impressed that you can catalog your many inspirations–I am always trying to remember where I saw recipes I wanted to try!


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