An Inspired Vietnamese Favorite
For me, Banh Mi sandwiches are the perfect thing to order during lunch; they’re filling, but they’re never heavy, and they just happen to pack it all; the crunchy pickled veggies, the brightness from the cilantro, and the spice from the fresh sliced chiles. Usually they’re stuffed with slices of pork or chicken too. But for my vegan-friendly version I’m using sheets of roasted and marinated eggplant. The words “Bahn mi” refer to the type of Vietnamese bread, which is similar in many ways to a French baguette, the main difference being that the Vietnamese bread is usually made with a mixture of both rice and wheat flour. To make it easier on myself, I just used a baguette here. If you’re doing the same, I’d encourage you to make sure the bread you’re using is super fresh–the recipe is named after the bread and everything–it’s really important for the sake of the sandwich that this part is on point.
There are a few other alterations I’m making to the traditional sandwich also. The first is that we’re scratching the mayo that usually gets smeared on the bread, because again, Eric hates Mayo and I’ve been banned from including it on the grocery list. But I LOVE replacing my mayo with creamy avocado anyway. It makes the fat a little healthier, and because I mix it with some soy sauce here for umami-ness, I rounds it out nicely.
Here’s How I made them:
- 1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 4 thick pieces, about 1 inch thick
- 3 TBSP soy sauce
- 3 TBSP rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp agave, or other sweetener
- 1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp sriracha or chili paste
- 1 Tbsp mild cooking oil (vegetable, avocado, sunflower, canola, peanut, etc.)
- pepper to taste
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thin sticks
- 2 mini seedless cucumbers, cut into thin sticks
- 3 radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 TBSP rice Wine vinegar
- 1 TBSP Agave, or other sweetener
- 1 avocado
- juice of 2 limes, plus more wedges for serving
- salt to taste
- 1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, sliced
- handful of sugar snap peas (optional)
- handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 2, 6-inch baguettes, freshly baked
Pickle the Veggies: In a bowl or container, whisk together the wine vinegar and sugar and then add the prepper carrot, cucumbers, and radishes and allow them to pickle while you make the eggplant.
Marinate and Roast the Eggplant: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, agave, minced ginger, minced garlic, sriracha or chili paste, oil, and pepper. Spread the eggplant slices on the sheet pan, and drizzle over the marinade making sure to flip and rub in the liquid so everything is coated well. Place in the oven to roast for 15 minutes or until browned, flipping halfway through.
Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.
In a separate bowl, mash the avocado until it turns to a paste, add the fresh lime juice, and salt to taste.
Slice the baguettes in half horizontally, spread the avocado onto the bottom, and lay over the roasted eggplant. Add the pickled veggies, sliced jalapenos, snap peas, and cilantro. Top with the other side of the bread, give a squeeze of more lime juice, and serve!