Five-spice vegan pate filling is the secret to this banh mi. Like the classic Vietnamese sandwich, it's spread on a light roll loaded with crunchy sliced vegetables, bright Asian herbs, and a creamy lemongrass sauce.
I love it when it’s all piled inside a chewy, tender roll with a thin crust. Then, when I sink my teeth into the sandwich, all that deliciousness is held together in one rewarding bite.
Traditional Vietnamese fillings
Most often, banh mi is made with meat. But did you know that in Vietnam, where banh mi originated, liver pate is traditionally included with the cold cuts?
I was truly excited when I became aware of this fact. If that surprises you to hear on a plant-based blog, let me explain.
Many restaurants and food trucks offer a roll with tofu taking the place of pork-based cold cuts, and I have happily devoured tofu banh mi sandwiches over the years. Yet, I instinctively felt there was a more flavorful plant-based option waiting to happen.
The thought of liver pate on sandwiches in Vietnam helped me consider another way to enjoy my favorite Vegan Five Spice Seed & Nut Pate.
Bingo. Now I knew how to take this vegetarian version over the top. My sunflower seed pate is so tasty, it renders tofu unnecessary.
Lemongrass mayo ingredients
Still, there was another detail to consider to make the sandwich vegan as well as vegetarian. That detail was the mayonnaise typically spread on banh mi rolls.
While it’s easy enough to purchase vegan mayo these days, I wanted something uber-fresh. So, I came up with my fluffy homemade lemongrass-infused mayo.
Quick pickle ingredients
Since I had already taken liberties, I chose to modify the standard quick pickle recipe as well. I replaced daikon with sweeter, crunchier jicama. Jicama’s crisp flesh soaks up the quick-pickle marinade while retaining its juicy snap.
Now you probably have experienced how the right bread can make or break a sandwich. So, I encourage you to find the closest thing to a classic banh mi baguette to build your sandwich.
If setting you on that errand seems unfair, don’t worry. My homemade banh mi sandwich bread recipe is in the works. I promise to let you know once it’s perfected and up on the blog.
What about Maggi seasoning?
Finally, it’s traditional to finish a banh mi sandwich with a sprinkle of Maggi seasoning. While Maggi adds delicious impact, it may come at a cost.
The ingredients in Maggi vary by region and product but generally include chemical substances like artificial flavor, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, and dextrose.
In keeping with healthier ingredients, I’ve replaced Maggi with Bragg's Liquid Aminos. It's made from non-GMO soybeans and has all the desired intense umami flavor without chemicals or additives. I've included a dash in the lemongrass mayo recipe and recommend serving it on the side to sprinkle over the fresh herbs on your sandwich.
To get the most flavor from lemongrass, peel off the tough outer layers. Then smash the bulb end of stalks before mincing. This releases essential oils in the lemongrass and makes it easier to chop.
I use my espresso coffee tamper! That's because it's always handy and fits well in my hand. But you can use any sturdy kitchen mallet or pounder. Let me know in the comments below if you have a favorite device for smashing lemongrass.
More vegan sandwiches
I would be thrilled to know if you tried this vegan banh mi recipe! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #poppyswildkitchenrecipes on Instagram. Aloha!
Pate Banh Mi With Lemongrass Mayo
- 4 six-inch bahn mi rolls
- 1 ¼ cups Vegan Five Spice Seed and Nut Pate
- 1 cup cucumber sliced in thin slabs
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro and mint leaves
- 2 medium jalapeno peppers, sliced thin
Quick Carrot and Jicama Pickle
- ⅓ cup very hot water
- ⅔ cup rice vinegar
- ¼ cup agave syrup or natural sweetener of choice
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 1 cup carrots, sliced in 1/16 inch julienne
- 1 cup jicama, sliced in 1/16 inch juliennne
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 3-4 stalks lemongrass, tender inside minced to yield ¼ cup
- 3 TB lemon juice
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. Bragg's liquid aminos
- 3 TB avocado or plain oil
- ¼ cup cold water
Soak and drain cashews
- Cover cashews with boiling water. Let soak until water has cooled to room temperature. Drain the cashews after soaking. This is important to make a thick mayo.
Make carrot & jicama pickle
- Place hot water, rice vinegar, agave syrup and salt in a 2 cup jar or bowl that has a lid. Stir well to dissolve salt.
- Add carrot and jicama to marinade. Cover container. Let sit 10 minutes. Give a shake and place in fridge to chill.
Make lemongrass mayo
- Trim top and bottom of lemongrass to leave 4 inch sections. Slice in half lengthwise. Peel and remove tough green outer layers. Cut away any remaining bulb root. Smash the tender pale insides that are left and mince to a fine texture. Measure out ¼ cup of prepared lemongrass.
- Place minced lemongrass in a high powered blender with drained cashews, lemon juice, Dijon, Bragg's, oil and water.
- Blend lemongrass mayo on high until very, very smooth. Stop the blender a few times to stir mixture down from sides of jar. At first the mayo will be grainy. Keep blending though, and eventually it will become silky and fluffy. This may take several minutes.
Assemble Banh Mi sandwiches
- Cut rolls in half lengthwise. Spread one side of each roll with a generous amount of lemongrass mayo. Spread the other side with about ⅓ cup pate. Top with ½ cup carrot and jicama pickle and ¼ of the cucumber slices. Garnish with fresh herbs and jalapeno slices. Sprinkle lightly with Bragg's liquid aminos to taste.Fold the two sandwich halves together. Chúc ngon miệng!