Tempeh Bahn Mi

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I have wanted to try a Bahn Mi sandwich for a long time, but I live so far from a Vietnamese restaurant that I finally decided to just make a sandwich for myself! Bahn Mi is an interesting fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisine resulting from French colonization, and is a general term for a Vietnamese style baguette and sandwich. Bahn Mi can include many ingredients, and generally incorporate cold cut meats or tofu, mayonnaise, fresh cilantro, chilis, and a variety of pickled vegetables–basically, it a sandwich style rather than a prescriptive recipe, which made me very excited to try it using ingredients I had at home! Don’t be tempted to get rid of the pickled vegetables- they are essential for a savory and sour balance of flavors! I will also post a quick onion pickling recipe soon so that you can get to work making bahn mi for yourself. If you are interested in marinated meat recipes, or making your own baguettes (Jake makes ours at home), Andrea Nguyen provides excellent guidance on her blog. Either way, this sandwich can be made a variety of ways and tastes delicious! 

Serves 2

Ingredients

For the Tempeh* 

  • 8 oz tempeh
  • 2 tbsp black soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp thin soy sauce 
  • 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar 
  • juice of one lime
  • 1″ ginger, chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp chinese five spice powder 

*Cook’s note: This marinade would also work well with a package of tofu – fried similarly in slices until golden brown over low heat. 

For assembly

  • 2 personal baguettes or one large baguette, halved to sandwich size 
  • Mayonnaise to spread (optional: mix in a dash of fish sauce and a large dash of sriracha sauce)
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced thinly lengthwise
  • Thin carrot slices or thin pickled carrot slices
  • Pickled red onion or pickled daikon radish
  • Red pepper or hot red chili slices
  • Small handful of fresh mint, cilantro, and/or thai basil leaves
  • Avocado, thinly sliced (not pictured)

Instructions 

First, prepare the marinade. Cut the tempeh into thin about 1″ wide strips, then cut these in half through the thickness of the tempeh so that they can absorb more marinade. Combine all of the marinade ingredients together, then let the tempeh sit in the marinade while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, for about 30 minutes at least. Put the tempeh in a baking dish or on a large plate, pouring the marinade over top. Turn the tempeh at least once so that the marinade coats both sides. While you wait, prepare your other ingredients. 

In a large skillet over medium high heat, Add the tempeh and marinade and grill until the tempeh is slightly golden brown, flipping once or twice. You may need to add a bit of canola or olive oil to the pan. 

Meanwhile, toast the baguette whole in the oven or large toaster oven at 350 for 3-5 minutes until the crust is a light golden brown. Make sure to keep an eye on it so that it does not get too crispy! Remove and let it cool for a minute or two, then cut in half. If you want, you can hollow it out a little bit inside to make more room for sandwich ingredients to fit inside!

Assemble your bahn mi sandwich, adding the mayonnaise, tempeh slices, cucumber and vegetable slices, pickles, and fresh herbs to the baguette. Enjoy warm, or you can let the tempeh cool and assemble picnic sandwiches for lunch or for later!

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