Bánh mì chay

Bánh mì is an edible souvenir of Vietnam's french colonisation . Encompassing the best of Eurpean and Asian food, with crusty french bread and fresh Asian herbs, it is a lovely fusion in the true sense of the word.The 'chay' denotes that it is vegetarian.
While Bánh mì is a sandwich really, it is not your pat some butter & cheese, slap another slice and eat and run sort of thing. This one needs a bit of time and planning, to create all the layers of flavours and textures that a good banh mi is, making it a great Sunday brunch, which is what is was for us today.
While some of the fillings are easy to play around with based on what you like and what you have, the key ingredients are pickled carrot and daikon(radish), and fresh cilantro, with a boldly flavoured protein bit ( Pork or chicken are traditional, then there is a basic egg version , I subbed with Tofu, but paneer should work even better). Most recipes also call for cucumber but we had none at hand, so add that if you like.
The components of this sandwich are :
*************************************************************************************************************************** Part I :The Sweet & Sour
Everyday Carrot and Daikon Pickle ( Đồ Chua)
  • Carrot, Julienned or coarsely grated to make 1 cup
  • Daikon (Mooli), Julienned or coarsely grated to make 1 cup
  • Vinegar 1/4 cup
  • Sugar, 1 tbsp
  • Salt,1.5 tsp
  • Water 2 cups
Dissolve the salt & sugar in vinegar and water to make a brine. Add the carrot and daikon to this and leave for atleat an hour. Whatever you don't use can keep for a month. Next time I will try to julienne instead of grating them as that will keep them crunchier much longer. I also had some extra brine and threw in a couple of chillies in it.Adapted from here.

Part II: The Succulent & Flavourful
Lemongrass Tofu (Dau Hu Xa Ot)

  • Firm Tofu ( or Paneer) 100 gms
  • Fresh Lemongrass 1 bulb, chopped to yield 1 tbsp
  • Garlic, 1 to 2 cloves, depending on the size
  • a pinch of turmeric
  • chilli powder (optional)
  • salt, a pinch
  • pepper ( black, white either should do)
  • cooking oil, 1 tsp
  • Light soy sauce 1 tbsp or regular soy sauce 1 tsp or salt 1/2 tsp
Pat dry and thinly slice the tofu or paneer. Finely chop lemongrass and garlic. Now if possible, crush them together with everything else, except the oil and soy sauce, else let it be and just mix the chopped lemongrass and garlic with turmeric, salt, chili and pepper.
Rub this marinade on the tofu, sprinkle the soy sauce and the oil and keep it aside to marinate for an hour ideally .

Now pan fry in a non stick pan using a little oil if required. If you are in a hurry, you could cook after 10 minutes of marination.
Inspired by this and this
What else is required

French Baguette (In Vietnam they use a Baguette made with rice and wheat flour, which makes it really crusty and chewy). This is the size we used for two adults and 1 kid.

Fresh Cilantro (Coriander), just wash well, snap off the root and use together with the stalks (yes, the stalks do taste interesting)

Mayonnaise, Vegenaise, or this

Maggi Seasoning Sauce

Don't have it? Substitute it with a few drops of Ching's Mushroom Soy Sauce, or even leave it out. We only need a couple of drops anyway, and I did not want to add it to Shiv's sandwich as it does contain MSG. It is usually added to Banh Mi, but does not make much of a difference. Really.

Assembling the Bánh mì

Toast the bread just enough to warm it nicely.

Split it open at one end. Scoop out a bit inside if it is too dense for the fillings to hold well, I did not have to. Slice the onions, gently squeeze the water from the cilantro and pickled carrot & daikon.

Now, Spread some mayo on the bread, add some onions, then a couple of tofu slices . Stuff in some pickled carrot & daikon and add a few stalks of cilantro. Do not be tempted to leave out the stems, they taste delicious in this sandwich. Sprinkle a few drops of the seasoning sauce and the pickled chili, if using.
Keep your hungry other half from devouring it while you click some pics
Open your mouth as wide as you can and dig in.

These go to JFI Soya hosted by Sia, WBB Combi Breakfast at Latha's and A.W.E.D Vietnamese by DK. Thank you D, you finally made me try these out.


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  2. Thatz a lovely sandwich. I havent experimented too much with vietnamese cuisine .. this one looks good .. Thanks for sharing

  3. That is one awesome looking sandwich! I can imagine after all that work it must taste sooooo good!

  4. that looks like a mean sandwich and one that I'd love to taste. Bookmarked!

  5. still to try this cuisine,.sandwhich looks so so delicious,..happy janmashtami too,..;-)...ceeya..

  6. WOW! That is some sandwich you got there! :) Looks great!

  7. That is one amazing sandwich...i am drooling all over just looking at it. This is definitely in my "to try" list.

  8. Fantastic sandwich and beautifully Presented.
    The tofu sounds great with lemon grass.
    By the way I also tried the puran poli,it was awesome.

  9. The scrumptious veggies and tofu in that gorgeous baguette make this sandwich totally drool worthy- yummm!

  10. banh mi chay... phillipines asar hai kya :D... kya haai hai J ke... and apke uske sath.... mast mast mast hai.. ek baat batao Daikon bole toh mooli na?sahi bana hoga na.... apke blog se yet to try to badhte ja raha hai di...

  11. Wow, what a beautiful sandwich!

  12. I don't check my reader one day and you come up with such beautiful creations!!! Thanks for the intro to Vietnamese cuisine too.I have tried one of your Thai recipes ... post coming up soon.:-)
    Great going girl!

  13. Bread and Vietnamese! Who'd have thunk? Actually, I do know of the French connection, but never thought of the food.

  14. Wow rashmi, lip smacking entry!

    have a little something waiting for you at my blog :-)

  15. What a sandwich. This would be great for any meal. Should try it.

  16. Very nice! Never heard of this - am sure it was delicious!

  17. This sounds interesting though it takes a bit of planning...will try out soon and let you know...hope i get that disciple to get everything organised for the special sandwich night :)

  18. Oh yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum
    Soups and sandwiches are my way to go !
    I'm def def going to make this !
    Sour bread is soooo yummmy...will try this with it :)
    Best Rgds,
    Sam !

  19. Oh this is awesome, great sandwich and look divine, mouthwatering!!!

  20. looks delicious and healthy! I would love to taste it right now.. :)

  21. Wow that looks so filling. I love the idea of pickeled carrot. Thanks for sharing this wonderful Sandwich.

  22. Those look amazing! How do you manage to take such good pics? They just pop out. The food looks beautiful.

  23. I'm so glad you posted this. My best friend loves this sandwich. Now I know what the ingredients are, I will surprise her one day.

  24. What a wonderful post!! Bookmarked!!

  25. Banh mi chay looks colourful...nice entry

  26. That looks sooooo awesome and splendid.I havent experimented too much with vietnamese cuisine .Bookmarked it.

  27. bharti, dindin, aparna, mishmash, sam, meera cynthia & sireesha:
    Would love to know if any of you get around to trying it.Thanks so much for the kind words

  28. swati:
    this is not filipino, but vietnamese, will ask J to ask some veg. filipino grub for you when you come:)

  29. divya:
    thanks for saying that,I post only the decent pics actually, I have lots of ugly ones stashed away.
    I guess its the large size of the photos and using natural light that makes them pop out as you call it, because my camera is rather old and basic, and all I know is to aim and shoot.

  30. Thanks to everyone for the sweet comments which never fail to make my day:)

  31. shibani:
    great that you could try out puranpoli,and that you enjoyed it.

  32. Pictures - Top Notch

    Recipe - Classy

    Result - Drool!

    I have not tried the sandwich myself and this was exactly one of my main motives of starting AWED. To learn from knowledgable chefs like you. This is promptly bookmarked and will be trying it soon. Thanks for the beautiful platter to adorn my Vietnamese fiesta :)


  33. Thank you, thank you, thank you D!
    Trust me, the pleasure was mine, all along:)