This sandwich doesn’t need too much explaining. She’s a boss ass bitch who does what she wants and everyone knows her for it. Who is she? She is Banh Mi, the most iconic Vietnamese street food.
Banh Mi is a simplistic sandwich that lets its ingredients do the talking. The “meat” isn’t heavily seasoned, it contains no pungent sauces, and the veggies aren’t disguised at all – in fact, cilantro is laid on whole, stems and all.
Banh Mi literally translates to “bread” in English, but – according to Kim – if you’re talking to someone who’s selling sandwiches, it means “sandwich.” Both of which make sense, because the main feature of Banh Mi is the soft French baguette that it’s assembled inside of.
Veg Tip!: Just keep a watchful eye on the ingredient list when looking for French bread, as many of them are often made with eggs and/or butter; if you can’t find French bread, choose the lightest and softest baguette you can find.
The main filling inside of Banh Mi differs, but a few things should always be present: mayonnaise, cucumbers, cilantro, and do chua (pickled carrots & daikon). The most common meat of choice is grilled pork, but you can also find it with ham, grilled beef, and other meats. If you’re lucky enough to live in a heavily populated Vietnamese area, like Little Saigon of Orange County, then you’ll be able to find some spots with mind blowing veggie options, my favorite being a vegan hole-in-the-wall shop that loads their sandwich up with BBQ Soy Pork. If you’re not lucky enough to live in a heavily Vietnamese populated area, like Delaware, then the only veg option you’ll probably find is tofu, which is typically under-seasoned and under-cooked.
When it comes to whipping up a sandwich at home, the most readily available “meat substitute” that we can all find in our grocery stores is mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms in particular have a meaty chewiness and rich umami depth.
Now, I’m not going to try and convince you that this sandwich is Plant Paradox friendly, because it isn’t, but hear me out. The three things that fall under the danger zone of the Plant Paradox here are the bread, mayonnaise, and cucumbers. We’ve taken care of mayonnaise by making a vegan one made from avocado oil – problem solved there. As far as cucumbers go, they go on the “no” list because they’re a nightshade. However, night shades’ harmful lectins can be removed by peeling and de-seeding them, which takes about 1 minute to do.
I assume bread is the biggest concern here because of GGLLUUTTEEENNNN. And if you have celiacs then you should definitely avoid it like the plague – but you don’t need me to tell that. If you’re not celiacs though, let’s talk. As talked about in The Plant Paradox, gluten isn’t the most inflaming lectin in wheat, that title belongs to wheat germ agglutinin, which is contained within the bran of the grain. In fact, there are gut bacteria that thrive off of gluten, thus supporting the well-being of your gut flora. If you eat a small amount of gluten every now and then, you’ll keep these gluten-thriving bacteria around without having an upset stomach because you cut gluten out of your diet for 6 months (been there before).
My point is this: if you eat white bread that’s not loaded with preservatives every now and then, you’re not going to wreck your gut. You know, unless you’re actually allergic to gluten…
All in all, this sandwich is:
- Simply seasoned
- Soft, crisp, & chewy
- Savory, fresh, and tangy
- A classic Vietnamese street food
If you like what your tastebuds are tellin’ ya, leave behind a nice rating, share your thoughts with us in the comments, or show us your creations by tagging @noeggsorham on Instagram.
Go Forth & Devour,
Savory Oyster Mushroom Banh Mi
Soft French baguette packed with fresh cucumbers, aromatic cilantro, tangy pickled carrots & daikon, and meaty oyster mushrooms.
- One 10″ or two 6″ French baguettes (ensure they’re vegan-friendly)
- 1 lb oyster mushrooms, diced
- 1 1/2 tbsps buttery coconut oil or toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp tamari
- pinch of salt & pepper
- 1/4 cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and cut into thin strips
- Do Chua (pickled carrots & daikon)
- Avocado Mayonnaise
- fresh cilantro
- Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Once hot, add in oil, diced mushrooms, and a large pinch of salt & pepper.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are reduced in size and heavily browned; about 8 minutes.
- Toss in tamari and cook for one more minute, stirring throughout. Kill the heat.
- Place French baguette under your broiler until it’s lightly toasted on both sides; about 30 seconds per side. Note: watch your bread constantly because it can go from lightly brown to burnt in just 10 seconds.
- Remove from broiler and cut in half vertically without slicing through the bottom. Spread a thin or thick layer of mayonnaise on both sides of the bread (depending on your preference), add in all of the mushrooms followed by a few cucumber strips, cilantro, and Do Chua. Enjoy while fresh!