Before we get started, there’s no way we’re putting accent marks over every banh mi, pate, and do chua in the post. We don’t have to spell them out for you to know what they mean….
Wait, do you know what they mean? We’ve written about these things before (with the exception of pate) but if you’re new here or aren’t familiar with Vietnamese food, you might be scratching your head like “what the hell’s do chua?”
So, let’s start with that one: do chua is a Vietnamese condiment that literally translates to “sour things” in English, which is incredibly vague, we know. What do chua usually signifies however is thinly shredded carrots and daikon, pickled in a sweet and tart brine for three to five days. If they’re not on your banh mi, you’re not eating banh mi. Case closed.
Now, we really hope you know what banh mi is, but if you don’t, it’s essentially the birth child of Vietnamese and French street food. A premium banh mi sandwich contains slices of ham, grilled meat, fresh cucumber, mayonnaise, pate, jalapeños, cilantro, and do chua layered inside of a light and crackly French baguette. If you go to a traditional Vietnamese spot, your banh mi shouldn’t cost any more than $4, and if you’re making it at home, it’ll be even cheaper with more vegan options to play around with.
Pate is the part most of you are probably curious about, as it’s not typically associated with Vietnamese food, but like we mentioned before, modern day Vietnamese cuisine is the result of France’s impact on the country’s native traditions, hence the pate and baguette. You may have never seen pate on banh mi before, which is due to the fact that… well, honestly, we don’t know why that is. Pate is an essential part of the sandwiches in Vietnam. However, it’s not that banh mi isn’t good without pate, it’s just that pate is an added layer of deep umph that makes the sandwich even more irresistible.
Of course, we’re note tossing any livers into our pate, which means we have to find an alternative. Thankfully, someone’s already figured out how to do that: simply use mushrooms in place of liver. While mushroom pate obviously isn’t the exact same as traditional pate, it achieves the same depth, savoriness, and texture as the meat-based one, which is more than a humble vegan can ask for.
Now, we realize we’ve spent the entirety of this post talking about what goes into a normal banh mi as opposed to what’s actually in our tacos, but we pretty much covered it all. The most un-traditional things in here are 1.) tortillas (duh) and 2.) the use of chicken (vegan, of course). Usually, the sandwiches are filled with grilled pork or steak, but hey, can’t we enjoy something other than tofu for once?
While there may seem like there’s a lot going on here, there’s not much in the way of prep or time involved, as most of the ingredients are ready right out of the fridge. In fact, most of the work involved is in making the pate, which takes about 30 minutes. All in all, you can whip these up in less than in hour.
Speaking of “all in all,” these tacos are:
- Savory, deep, refreshing, subtly sweet, and lightly tart
- Tender, chewy, creamy, crisp, and crunchy
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Taco ‘Bout Blurring Cultural Boundaries
Lemongrass Chicken Bánh Mì Tacos with Savory Mushroom Pâté and Sweet & Sour Đồ Chua (Vegan)
All the flavors of your favorite Vietnamese sandwich inside a soft flour tortilla.
- 4 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 6 oz drained and rinsed navy beans
- 1/2 c panko bread crumbs + 2 tbsps water
- 1 tbsp cognac or brandy
- 1 tbsp vegan butter
- 1 tbsp vegan fish sauce*
- 1 tsp salt
- olive oil
- 10 oz vegan chicken, cut into strips (3 strips per taco)*
- 2 tbsps sesame oil
- 1 tsp finely minced lemongrass
- heavy pinch of salt
- few grinds of black pepper
- Pate: Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat. Once hot, add in enough olive oil to coat, followed by mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are soft and garlic just begins to brown around the edges; about 6 minutes.
- While mushrooms cook, mix together panko bread crumbs and water in a small bowl.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the mushroom mixture, wet panko, another 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the rest of the pate ingredients. Blend on high, scraping down the sides occasionally, until mixture is mostly smooth; about 4 minutes.
- Transfer to an airtight container and store in fridge for up to one week.
- Lemongrass Chicken: Heat a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in sesame oil and chicken. Cook until chicken is browned on 2 sides.
- Add in lemongrass, black pepper, a very heavy pinch of salt, and toss frequently until lemongrass just begins to brown; about 2 minutes.
- Assembling: Heat tortillas in a warm oven or directly over a gas flame until warm.
- Spread on a layer of pate down the middle, followed by chicken, squeeze of mayonnaise, do chua, squeeze of hoisin sauce, jalapeño slices, cilantro, and crushed peanuts. Repeat for remaining tacos and enjoy while fresh!
*Good vegan fish sauce can be found for less than $5 at many oriental markets.
*Gardein, which can be found in the frozen vegetarian section of most major American markets, is our favorite purveyor of vegan chicken.
*Do chua (pickled carrots & daikon) can be bought a la carte from most Vietnamese restaurants. Alternatively, you can follow the link in the recipe to make your own, which takes about 3 days to ferment.