Vegan Bahn Mi with Tofu and Portobello Mushrooms
I remember the first time I was introduced to the concept of a bahn mi sandwich. We were watching The Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network and one of the teams in the competition had a bahn mi food truck. The team was made up of a group of Vietnamese women who were proudly representing their heritage by selling these delicious sandwiches which combine elements of French and Vietnamese cultures. After watching them prepare these gems, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one!
It was not long after watching that show that my wife and I made a trip to New York City and took a food tour of Chinatown. As we were leaving Chinatown, we walked right by the Paris Sandwich shop. As luck would have it, their specialty was bahn mi sandwiches! Despite the fact we just ate our way through Chinatown, we decided to drop seven more dollars just to “taste” one of the bahn mi sandwich. After taking a single bite, the rest of the sandwich didn’t have a chance! The entire thing was devoured within minutes!
The bahn mi is the perfect sandwich. It’s got grilled marinated protein (I get mine with tofu, but the traditional sandwich can be made with a variety of meats including thinly-sliced pork, beef, and chicken). The warm, sweet saltiness of the protein contrasts nicely with crisp, cool vinegary pickled vegetables and the spiciness of the thinly sliced jalepeno. This explosion of flavors is all enveloped with a soft-centered, crispy-crusted french baguette that’s layered with creamy mayonnaise.
After finally getting to try this delicacy, and realizing that there were really no authentic bahn mi sandwiches being sold anywhere in my hometown, I realized I had to learn to how to make these. I perused many recipes online for different marinades and ultimately came up with my own concoction that seemed just about perfect. I’ve made these sandwiches for family and friends on many occasions, and they’re always a hit!
If you’re trying to watch your carbs or avoid eating bread or gluten, the tofu and pickled veggies are great over a bed of lettuce or rice noodles. I also love to top mine with sriracha! In this version, I also added some marinated portobellos to provide extra meatiness and flavor (they’re pretty amazing to eat right out of the pan).