This tofu banh mi with sriracha aioli is easily one of my favorite vegan sandwiches. It’s refreshing from the cool cucumber, fresh jalapeño and cilantro, a little spicy from the sriracha aioli, and tangy from the pickled carrots and daikon. You can prepare all of the ingredients ahead of time for an easy week day lunch or weekend meal prep. Plus I will share with you how to do a quick at-home pickle.
Growing up I loved sandwiches. I think most kids growing up at least in the United States can attest to eating sandwiches for lunch pretty much all the time! But when I transitioned to a vegan lifestyle, I was kind of at a loss. If you take out the meat and cheese…what are you supposed to put in a vegan sandwich!? Thankfully the classic, beloved peanut butter and jelly is vegan, but what about the meat and cheese sandwich?
I’ll admit, it will be different than the nostalgic deli sandwich, but vegans can definitely still enjoy delicious sandwiches. And often, vegan sandwiches are a whole lot healthier! Chickpeas make a great replacement for the classic egg sandwich (have you tried my chickpea egg breakfast sandwiches?) and tempeh makes another great meat substitute (check out my vegan bacon bits for a homemade vegan BLT).
Plus, there are even vegan deli meat slices available! Check out this post by Veganista sharing some of the current Best Vegan Deli Slices on the Market.
The bottom line is the formula for a vegan sandwich is the same as a regular sandwich. Bread, a condiment of some sort, protein, veggies, condiment, bread. That protein is going to be a little different than you’re used to, but the rest is the same!
Cooking Tofu for Beginners
This sandwich uses tofu to replace the classic pork protein, but I know a lot of people are intimidated by tofu. To help you get over that tofu fear and hopefully convince you it is VERY easy to work with and make delicious, I want to answer some basic tofu questions I see come up again and again.
Yes. Raw tofu is perfectly safe to eat.
No. I know a lot of people recommend it, but I don’t for a couple reasons. I usually buy extra firm tofu and find it really doesn’t have a ton of excess liquid. Lightly squeezing it in a paper towel over the sink is usually good enough. The extra step of pressing tofu for several minutes does not change the flavor enough to be worth it in my opinion.
Tofu will take on whatever flavor you marinade or cook it in. You can also lightly pan fry it until crispy and toss it in a delicious sauce like these recipes: Crispy Peanut Tofu and Sticky Vegan Orange Chicken. Both are great recipes for beginners to tofu!
YES. And I highly recommend it. I freeze and thaw mine right in the package it comes in. It changes the texture to make it more spongy, absorbent and chewy.
For reliable unbiased information written and researched by a doctor, I would check out this resource.
For this recipe, I marinated the tofu overnight in a simple mixture of low-sodium tamari, date syrup, and sesame oil. If you are in a hurry, you can marinate for 1 hour, however know the longer you can marinate for, the more intense the flavor will be. After marinating, I baked it for 20 minutes at 425 minutes. It’s not super crispy or tough, but very very flavorful!
Pickling Your Vegetables
For this recipe, I did a quick pickle with carrots and daikon.
I learned how to do this from my aunt who is the pickling queen. I constantly beg her to start her own food blog because she is a wealth of information, but I haven’t had any success to date. For the time being, I’ll just have to share what I have learned from her here!
All you’ll need is rice vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. All 4 of these are important components. If you don’t use any water, your pickled vegetables will be TOO vinegary. Water helps balance it out. Same with the sugar and salt. You don’t want too much of either or your pickling liquid could turn more into a syrup than a brine, but you do want both for balance! For additional flavors, add in some herbs. For this quick pickle I just added in a teaspoon of peppercorns, but bay leaves, dried chilies, garlic, and dill for a classic pickle are all great choices.
Julienne or slice your carrots and daikon as thin as possible and pack them in a 16 ounce jar with your desired herbs. Bring the vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil and then pour this mixture over top the carrots and daikon. Add a lid and allow to pickle at least overnight in the fridge. I find the flavor gets better after a few days, but enjoy within about 10 days. If it sits too long the carrots and daikon will lose their crunch and be TOO vinegary!
Building Your Sandwich
Once you have your baked tofu and pickled vegetables, it’s time to assemble your sandwich!
Fresh baguette, sriracha aioli, baked tofu, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumbers, jalapeños, fresh cilantro, more sriracha aioli and more bread.
So many good flavors at work here! This banh mi is zesty, crisp, crunchy, cool, spicy and salty.
More Vegan Lunch Ideas
- Chickpea Avocado Salad Sandwich
- Chickpea Egg Breakfast Sandwiches
- Santa Fe Salad with Grilled Tempeh
- Kale and Beetroot Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing
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Tofu Banh Mi with Sriracha Aioli
- 1 (16 ounce) block of extra firm tofu
- ½ cup low sodium tamari can substitute ¼ cup full sodium tamari and ¼ cup water
- 3 tablespoons date syrup can substitute maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
Picked Carrots and Daikon
- 2 medium carrots julienned
- 1 large daikon julienned
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon organic cane sugar
- 1 teaspoons salt
- herbs if desired peppercorn, garlic, dried chilies, bay leaves, fresh dill, etc.
- ⅓ cup vegan mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sriracha
- ½ lime juiced
Sandwich Toppings and for Serving
- 1 French baguette or ciabatta
- 2 jalapeños thinly sliced
- 1 cucumber thinly sliced
- sweet potato fries optional
- *The night before (or at least 1-2 hours ahead of time), marinate the tofu and pickle the carrots and daikon.
- Lightly squeeze the block of tofu in a paper towel over the sink to remove excess liquid. Slice tofu into 8 slices. In a large shallow dish with a lid, marinate tofu in low-sodium tamari, date syrup and sesame oil mixture. Refrigerate and allow to marinate overnight.
- For the pickled vegetables, add the julienned carrot and daikon to a 16 oz jar with desired herbs. Bring rice vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil on stove top. Once boiling, pour overtop carrots and daikon. Refrigerate overnight. For a more intense pickle, do this a few days ahead of time!
- Next day: add marinated tofu to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
- While this is baking, thinly slice the cucumber, jalapeño and cilantro and make the sriracha aioli by mixing together mayonnaise, sriracha and lime juice.
- Once tofu has baked, build your sandwiches and enjoy.
- Storage: Tofu will last up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Pickled vegetables will last up to 10 days. For meal prep, store ingredients separately in the refrigerator.
- If you add garlic to your pickled vegetables and it turns blue it is okay! Still good to eat!
- This recipe does require think ahead prep but when ingredients are ready, it only takes a matter of minutes to put this sandwich together.