These lemongrass tofu bahn mi are made with pita pockets and a lighter and gluten-free version of the classic! They are packed with marinated tofu, crispy veggies and mayonnaise.
Bahn mi is a Vietnamese-French sandwich where a baguette-like bun is filled with a fusion of meats, picked vegetables and condiments like mayonnaise and pate. In Australia, if you're lucky, you'll find a place which offers tofu bahn mi and vegan-friendly fillings!
To be honest, I've only ever eaten and finished ONE bahn mi in my life - yes yes, that's right, I'm Asian and I've only eaten one. I find the buns sooo big and I know I wouldn't be able to stomach the whole thing. Traditional bahn mi has a high bread to filling ratio.... and I'm always about the fillings.
So that's why these pita pockets make sooooo much sense. They are light AND hold the toppings in one place which means less mess... and less of a need to do my laundry, right?!
Before anyone gets angry at me for combining bahn mi with pita pockets... bahn mi is a fusion of Vietnamese and French cuisines so I'm taking it one step further and adding a bit of the Middle East with these pita pockets. Don't knock it until you try it!
Making the lemongrass tofu
The tofu is the star filling ingredient here. It's salty, zesty, zangy and has plenty of umami!
Some people don't like tofu because it has no flavour. Surprise! It doesn't - that's where the marinade comes in!!! I like to marinate my tofu until it's so golden brown that you don't even know it's tofu anymore.
And unlike animal meat, you don't have to deal with any sliminess when you marinate it ;). Just pop it in a container and let the marinade do its magic.
The best (and easiest) way to cook the tofu for this recipe is to pan fry it.
Simply sear the tofu on one side to keep the juicy marinade in. Flip over each piece and fry them until they beautiful and golden brown!
Some of the lemongrass and ginger may stick to the pan so it's best to add the marinade or a dash of water to deglaze the pan. All the bits stuck to the tofu and pan are specks of flavour and you want as much as you can get!
Fresh vegetables for this vegan bahn mi
Fresh cucumber, coriander and pickled carrots complement the tofu and pita bread sooo well!
Even though I hate coriander and pickled vegetables by themselves, they go exceptionally well in this bahn mi pita!
They add crunch, sweetness and FRESHness. Eating them in these pita pockets makes me feel naughtily healthy.
How to assemble the vegan bahn mi
When making bahn mi, most of the work is with prepping the ingredients. Putting together the bahn mi is actually ridiculously simple.
It's just like a sandwich but with no rules.
This is how I did it:
- Cut open the pita pocket
- Spread mayonnaise on one or both sides
- Fill the pocket with tofu
- Fill the pocket with everything else and enjoy!
Need more vegan lunch/dinner ideas?
Lemongrass Tofu Bahn Mi Pita
- 2-3 large carrots, julienned
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar, or vinegar of choice
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 small cucumbers, sliced thinly
- 6 small pita pockets
- ½ cup vegan mayonnaise
- ½ cup coriander leaves
To pickle the carrot:
- Combine the julienned carrots with the rice vinegar and maple syrup in a bowl. Set aside in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
To prepare the tofu:
- Prepare the tofu marinade by combining all the ingredients except the tofu and oil in a flat bowl or container. Add the tofu and set aside in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- When you are ready to cook the tofu, add a dash of olive oil to a frying pan over high-medium heat. Add the tofu without the marinade and cook for 3 minutes or until the edges turn brown. If the tofu is turning brown too quickly, add a dash of the marinade to slow down the cooking. Flip the tofu and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the remaining marinade to de-glaze the pan then allow it to slightly evaporate. Set aside the tofu.
To assemble the bahn mi pita:
- Open each pita pocket. Spread mayonnaise on one or two sides.
- Fill the pita pockets with the marinated tofu, picked carrots, cucumber and coriander.
- Serve immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 hours or in the fridge overnight.
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