Is it possible to make an adaption of a recipe that you’ve never actually tasted?
In my world, yes, yes it is.
I’ve wanted to make a simple, vegan version of Banh Mi* – a Vietnamese baguette sandwich traditionally served with seasoned pork and pickled vegetables – for quite some time now. The problem is it’s not a simple recipe, nor is it vegan. I had some work to do.
On a recent car ride – often when many recipe ideas hit me unexpectedly – I thought spring rolls were the perfection solution. They’re easy, fast, and fresh, and are easy to keep both vegan and gluten-free. Yahtzee!
*Note: you can learn more about the origin of Banh Mi here.
Origins of Fresh Spring Rolls
Fresh spring rolls (also known as gỏi cuốn or summer rolls) are a common Vietnamese dish, but the concept is believed to have originated in China. It’s thought that they may be a modification from Chinese egg rolls, but with Vietnamese flavors.
They are typically made with fresh vegetables, herbs, and protein that are wrapped in rehydrated rice paper and served with a dipping sauce.
This recipe is simple with just 10 ingredients (give or take a garnish)! Prep and cook time is right around 45 minutes, as well, making this a great option for weeknight dinners.
For dipping sauce, you can either use the vinegar sauce used to quick pickle your veggies for a lighter option, or opt for a heartier sauce utilizing your favorite nut butter.
To keep everyone happy, I include three options below. You’re welcome.
These rolls are a veggie lover’s dream. They’re:
Hearty thanks to the tofu
Tangy from the pickled vegetables
& Seriously delicious
These would be a great make-ahead dish to take along for hikes, picnics and work lunches – all things I hope you get to enjoy this spring. Consider these rolls a big hug from us Minimalist Bakers to you.
If you give these a try, let us know! Take a picture and tag it #minimalistbaker on Instagram so we can see. It’s kind of our fave. Cheers!
Tofu Spring Rolls with Pickled Veggies (Banh Mi-Inspired)
- 2 cups vegetables (carrots, daikon or red radish // julienned)
- 3/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 4-5 Tbsp sweetener (i.e. agave nectar, sugar, or honey if not vegan)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 medium lime (juiced)
- 1 block extra-firm tofu
- 1 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce if not GF)
- 12 spring roll rice papers
- 1 large bundle cilantro (large stems removed // or sub basil or mint)
- Sriracha or chili garlic sauce (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and wrap tofu in a clean, absorbent towel and set something heavy on top to press. Once preheated, slice tofu into medium-sized rectangles (see photo) and place on a parchment-lined (or lightly greased) baking sheet.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown on all sides. Generously brush with soy sauce and set aside.
- While the tofu is baking, prepare pickling sauce by combining rice vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and lime juice in a jar and shaking to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more sweetener of choice for sweetness, or vinegar or lime juice for tanginess. Transfer to fridge to chill.
- Next, prep vegetables by julienning or thinly slicing radish, carrot and any other desired fillings (jalapeño is a common Banh Mi addition). Add to vinegar mixture to quick pickle in the fridge.
- Prepare station for making spring rolls by getting a surface to lay rice papers on, and heat 2-3 cups (amount as original recipe is written // increase as needed if making larger batch) water to boiling, then turn off heat.
- Drain pickled veggies at this time and reserve liquid for dipping. If opting for a nut butter sauce, prepare at this time (recipe links above).
- To prepare a spring roll, dip rice paper in hot water for 15-20 seconds, or until soft and pliable and transfer to a damp working surface (such as a cutting board). Then add 3-4 pieces tofu, pickled vegetables, 1-2 tsp sriracha or chili garlic sauce, and a large handful of cilantro. Fold over once, tuck in edges, and continue rolling over.
- Lay seam side down on a serving platter or baking sheet and cover with a slightly damp towel to keep moist. Continue until all spring roll fillings are used up – about 10-12 rolls (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size).
- Serve with leftover vinegar sauce OR my favorite almond butter or peanut butter sauce (recipes above). Leftovers store well covered in the fridge for up to 2 days, though best when fresh.