There’s a tiny little Vietnamese restaurant in Alex’s neighborhood called Bánh Mì BáGet that makes the most amazing tofu bánh mi sandwich with lemongrass.Whenever I go to the city to visit her I always try to get there around midafternoon so I can eat one for lunch. If you’ve never had one I promise you that they’re out of this world delicious.
What makes it so fabulous that I’d schedule a visit to my daughter’s apartment around a sandwich? Well I’m going to tell you, and once I do you’re going to understand. And you’re going to want one.
The bread/baguette that holds the explosion of ingredients and flavors together is probably the best bread I’ve ever had. I did a little bánh mi research and discovered that Vietnamese bread is lighter and more “airy” than bread that’s made in Western countries, and the crust is thinner. So true! Reading that made me realize why I love it so much. It’s so light and chewy, and Bánh Mì BáGet warms it up so it’s soft and incredibly tender.
The filling in this sandwich is carefully thought out so that all of the ingredients complement one another. They drizzle soy sauce on the baguette first, then add pickled carrots and daikon that are perfectly sliced into matchsticks. Then they pile on the tofu, thinly sliced cucumber, sliced jalapeno, lemongrass, and black pepper, with another drizzle of soy sauce over it all.
Eating one is a beautiful experience. First you bite into a warm and chewy roll, then a crisp fresh cucumber, tangy lemongrass, crunchy and slightly sour carrots and daikon, spicy hot jalapeno, and salty soy sauce. If I were the kind of person that lived to eat I would probably hear church bells and angels singing with every bite. But I’m not that kind of person so my reaction is to close my eyes and groan a bit. That’s not weird, is it?
Yesterday I was craving a tofu bánh mi sandwich with lemongrass so bad, but I didn’t feel like driving forty-five minutes to Chicago, so I made my own interpretation of the one I love so much from Bánh Mì BáGet. I didn’t want to buy pickled carrots and daikon so I decided that I’d make mine a little different and use fresh carrots and skip the radish. That little change didn’t make a big difference because I drizzled some balsamic vinegar and lime juice on top to give it a sour taste that worked out just fine.
This sandwich is easy to make. All you need to do is press the excess liquid out of the tofu and brown it in a pan for a few minutes. While it’s cooling you can slice thin pieces of cucumber (I left the skin on), cut a carrot into thin match sticks, slice some jalapeno rings (take the seeds out if you don’t like super spicy, or just leave the pepper out if you don’t want any heat), and mince some fresh lemongrass.
Warm the baguette in the oven so you can get that fresh baked flavor then slice it open and drizzle some soy sauce on the bread and fill it with all of the delicious ingredients you just prepared. Squeeze some fresh lime and pour a little balsamic vinegar on top and sprinkle some fresh cilantro on for one more fabulous flavor.
Now, sink your teeth into one of the most aromatic sandwiches you’ll ever eat. Your nose and your taste buds are going to be so happy that you made this. Warm and chewy bread, and fresh cool cucumber and sweet crunchy carrot get along wonderfully with the spicy jalapeno and the tangy lemongrass. And the sour lime and tangy balsamic, along with the fragrant cilantro, make this the most happening thing on sliced bread that you’re ever going to eat.
This vegan tofu bánh mi sandwich with lemongrass will make a fantastic, easy, and quick meatless Monday night dinner. Serve it with some sweet potato fries and take it outside to eat tonight.
Have you ever had a bánh mi?
Do you like Vietnamese food?
What’s your favorite sandwich?