Friends, behold: The Vegan Banh Mi.
Consider this my spin on the popular, classic Vietnamese sandwich. So many versions I’ve seen rely on tempeh or tofu as the main filling. But I couldn’t help but wonder if the humble cauliflower could step in and take its place, because it’s fast to prepare, absorbs flavors well, and is so delicious when stir-fried. Spoiler alert: It totally worked.
This recipe comes together in 30 minutes! Yep, that fast, which means it’s lunch- and dinner-friendly (quick meals for the win).
It starts by quick-pickling radish and carrot in vinegar, a little salt, and sugar. This makes them crispy, salty, tangy, and a little sweet. Next comes the main event: the cauliflower.
Origins of Banh Mi
While the literal translation of bánh mì is “bread,” the term is commonly used to refer to a Vietnamese sandwich served on a baguette or similar French bread.
It’s believed that the bánh mì sandwich originated in the late 1950s in Saigon, Vietnam (source). There are now several different variations of banh mi, but common among them are pickled veggies, fresh herbs, cucumbers, and chilies. You can learn more and find some authentic recipes here.
Our version is not authentic, but a plant-based take that incorporates similar fresh ingredients, pickled veggies, spicy condiments, and herbs on a crunchy baguette.
How to Make a Vegan Banh Mi
First, we marinate the cauliflower in a simple, spicy, savory sauce. Then we sauté and finish by roasting in the oven until tender. Mmm, roasty.
Once the 3-ingredient sriracha mayo is made and the bread is toasted, it’s time to assemble! First aioli, then cauliflower, then pickled vegetables and garnishes. That’s it!
We hope you LOVE this vegan banh mi. It’s:
BIG on flavor
Quick to make
& SO satisfying
This would make the perfect meal when you’re craving a sandwich but want something more than PB&J. It’s the perfect marriage of textures, temperatures, and flavors. Enjoy as is or pair with these Vietnamese-inspired Spring Rolls!
If you’re into cauliflower, also check out our Curried Cauliflower Wings, Cauliflower Rice Stir-Fry, Gochujang Cauliflower Wings, Curry Roasted Cauliflower Kale Salad, and The Best Whole Roasted Cauliflower.
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Cauliflower Banh Mi
- 2/3 cup rice wine vinegar (or sub apple cider vinegar)
- 1/3 cup hot water
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 Tbsp organic cane sugar (or stevia to taste)
- 2/3 cup thinly sliced or shredded carrot
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced or shredded daikon or round radish
- 2 small baguettes* (use gluten-free bread to keep gluten-free friendly, such as New Cascadia)
- Fresh cilantro (optional)
- Fresh cucumber (optional)
- Sliced jalapeño pepper (optional)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (232 C).
- Prepare pickled vegetables first by adding vinegar, hot water, salt, and sugar (or stevia) to a glass jar and shaking or stirring vigorously to dissolve salt and sugar. Then add carrot and radish, stir to coat, and push down to submerge. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill, where they will “quick pickle” until sandwich is ready. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator up to 1 week (sometimes more).
- To a medium mixing bowl, add chili garlic sauce, coconut aminos (or tamari), maple syrup, lime juice, and oil and stir to combine. Then add cauliflower florets and toss to combine.
- Heat a large rimmed oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, use a slotted spoon to scoop the cauliflower into the pan, reserving most of the liquid in the bowl.
- Sauté, stirring semi-frequently, until slightly browned on the exterior. Then add most of the reserved marinade (saving a little for serving) and toss to coat. Transfer pan to the oven and bake until crispy on the outside yet tender on the inside – about 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare aioli by adding vegan mayo to a small mixing bowl with maple syrup and sriracha. Stir to combine. Then sample and adjust flavor as needed, adding more sriracha for heat or maple syrup for sweetness. Set in the refrigerator until serving.
- Slice the baguettes in half and toast in the oven (facedown directly on the oven rack) or on a hot grill pan until slightly browned. Then assemble: To the baguette, add aioli to both sides of the bread. Then to one side, add the cauliflower and brush on any leftover cauliflower marinade for more flavor. Last, add pickled vegetables, cilantro (optional), cucumber (optional), and jalapeño (optional).
- Enjoy. Best when fresh, though can be made in the morning and enjoyed for lunch – just refrigerate to keep fresh. Store leftovers separately in the refrigerator (except any un-toasted bread) up to a few days. Not freezer friendly.
*You could also swap the bread for lettuce cups or a collard green wrap to keep this grain-free!
*Inspiration taken from the New York Times.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 sandwich calculated without optional ingredients or toppings.