This vegan Banh mi is inspired by the Vietnamese sandwich I enjoyed many times at a local restaurant. It's made on a light roll spread with lemongrass mayo, filled with vegan pate, and topped with fresh herbs and crunchy, quick-pickled vegetables.
🏆 Top tip
To get the most flavor from lemongrass, smash the bulb end of the stalks before mincing. This releases essential oils and makes it easier to chop lemongrass.
⭐ Why it works
- Vegan pate - Plant-based version of traditional Vietnamese sandwich pate.
- Lemongrass mayo- smooth and creamy with delicious flavor.
- Bright herbs - generous addition of fresh mint and cilantro.
- Quick pickle - Tangy, crunchy, and lightly sweet.
- Vietnamese baguette - Suggestions on the best bread with alternatives.
- Vegan pate - our favorite is homemade 5-spice almond pate.
- Quick pickle - I used jicama with carrots for a sweeter crunch, but daikon is fine too.
- Mint and cilantro - an absolute must.
- Lemongrass mayo - signature homemade vegan sauce in this recipe.
- Cucumber and jalapeno - are classic ingredients, but the jalapeno is optional if you don't enjoy spicy food.
- Banh mi rolls - the closest thing you can find to the traditional Vietnamese baguette will really make a difference.
- Make quick pickle with julienne carrots and jicama or daikon.
- Make lemongrass mayo.
- Spread pate on half of a roll and spread the other half with lemongrass mayo.
- Pile your vegan Banh mi with quick pickle, lots of herbs, and jalapeno slices if desired.
📖 Vegan pate
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 cold cuts?
I was truly excited when I became aware of this fact. If it surprises you to hear that on a plant-based blog, let me explain.
Many restaurants and food trucks offer a vegan Banh mi with tofu taking the place of pork-based cold cuts.
Over the years, I have happily devoured tofu Banh mi sandwiches, yet I instinctively felt there was a more flavorful option waiting to happen.
Once I considered the liver pate on authentic sandwiches in Vietnam, I realized I had a new way to enjoy my favorite Vegan Five-Spice Almond Pate.
My rich and savory almond and sunflower seed pate is so tasty, it renders tofu unnecessary. If you have an umami-rich vegan pate you would like to use, I am sure it will be wonderful in this vegan Banh mi recipe.
The filling was set now, but there was another detail to consider to make this popular Vietnamese street food 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 and flavorful enough to elevate this vegan Banh mi. So, I came up with my fluffy homemade lemongrass-infused mayo.
- Cashews - blend beautifully and add body to the mayo.
- Plain oil - emulsifies with lemon juice for a spread that doesn't make the bread soggy.
- Liquid aminos - take the place of less healthy Maggi seasoning.
- Dijon mustard - just the right touch of spicy bite.
- Lemongrass - adds fragrant lemony zing.
Since I had already taken liberties in making this vegan Banh mi recipe, 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.
- Carrots - traditional in a Banh mi quick pickle.
- Jicama - not as traditional as daikon. Go ahead and use daikon if you prefer.
- Rice vinegar - is the first choice. You can also use apple cider vinegar.
- Agave syrup - vegan honey, maple syrup, and raw sugar also work.
🥖 Banh mi bread
Have experienced how the right bread can make or break a sandwich? That's especially the case with the fresh and light ingredients on a Banh mi.
I encourage you to find the closest thing you can to a classic Banh mi baguette to build your vegan Banh mi sandwich on. A Vietnamese sandwich shop or French bakery is a good place to look.
Sometimes its hard to find those places, so here is a description of what to look for in a sandwich roll as the next best thing.
Essentially you want a roll with a thin, crisp crust and a light, fluffy, soft interior. If the bread is heavy or dense, it won't pair well with the vegan Banh mi fillings.
🧂 What about Maggi seasoning?
If you have ever been at an authentic Banh mi sandwich counter, there was likely a bottle of Maggi seasoning nearby. 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.
👩🏻🍳 Expert tips
- Smash - the bulb end of lemon grass after you have trimmed the ends and sliced it lengthwise. Remove all the tough green layers until you have the tender insides left to mince. I use my espresso coffee tamper! That's because it's always handy and fits well in my hand. But you can use a kitchen mallet or a heavy, flat-bottom device.
- Make lemongrass mayo first so it can chill while preparing other ingredients. If you have the time, it's even better made a day ahead.
- Blend - lemongrass mayo in a high-powered appliance until perfectly smooth and fluffy.
- Quick pickle - is exactly that. Let it sit for 10 minutes, and use it after a brief chill.
- Vegan pate - several types can work. Select one made with mushrooms or other umami-rich flavors and a smooth, thick texture. This consistency is complimented by the crunchy veggies and soft bread.
- Pile fresh mint and cilantro generously on your vegan Banh mi sandwich.
- Sprinkle Bragg's liquid aminos or soy sauce lightly over the fresh herbs for that final touch of Asian flavor. A little goes a long way!
🥢 More Asian-inspired
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Vegan Banh Mi With Pate
- 4 six-inch Banh mi rolls
- 1 ¼ cups vegan pate
- 1 cup cucumber sliced in thin slabs
- ½ cup cilantro leaves
- ½ cup mint leaves
- 2 small jalapeno peppers
- ⅓ cup very hot water
- ⅔ cup rice vinegar
- ¼ cup agave syrup or natural sweetener of choice
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 cup carrots sliced in 1/16 inch julienne
- 1 cup jicama or daikon sliced in 1/16 inch julienne
- 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. Braggs liquid aminos
- 3 TB avocado or plain oil
- ¼ cup cold water
Soak and drain cashews
- Cover 1 cup raw cashews with boiling water. Let soak until the water has cooled to room temperature. Drain the cashews well after soaking. This is important to make a thick mayo.
Make lemongrass mayo
- Trim the top and bottom of the 3-4 stalks lemongrass to leave 4-inch sections. Slice in half lengthwise. Smash the bulb end and peel away and discard the tough green outer layers. Cut away any remaining bulb root. Mince the tender pale insides that are left to a fine texture. Measure out ¼ cup of prepared lemongrass.
- Place minced lemongrass in a high-powered powered blender with drained cashews, 3 TB lemon juice, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tsp. Braggs liquid aminos, 3 TB avocado or plain oil, and ¼ cup cold water.
- Blend lemongrass mayo on high until very, very smooth. Stop the blender a few times to stir the mixture down from the sides of the jar. At first, the mayo will be grainy. Keep blending though, and eventually, it will become silky and fluffy. This may take several minutes. Place lemongrass mayo in the refrigerator while preparing quick pickle.
Make quick pickle
- Place ⅓ cup very hot water, ⅔ cup rice vinegar, ¼ cup agave syrup or natural sweetener of choice, and ½ tsp. salt in a 2 cup jar or bowl that has a lid. Stir well to dissolve the salt.
- Slice carrots and jicama or daikon into julienne strips. Add 1 cup carrots and 1 cup jicama or daikon to the marinade and cover the container. Let sit for 10 minutes at room temperature. Give a shake and place in the refrigerator to chill.
Assemble Banh mi sandwiches
- Cut 4 six-inch Banh mi rolls in half lengthwise. Have ready 1 ¼ cups vegan pate, 1 cup cucumber , thinly sliced, ½ cup cilantro leaves, ½ cup mint leaves, and 2 small jalapeno peppers, sliced in rings. Take lemongrass mayo and quick pickle from the refrigerator.
- Spread one side of each roll with a generous amount of lemongrass mayo. Spread the other side with about ⅓ cup of pate. Top with ½ cup carrot and jicama pickle and ¼ of the cucumber slices. Garnish generously with fresh mint and cilantro. Add jalapeno slices if desired. Fold the two sandwich halves together.
- Serve with extra rings of sliced jalapeno and Bragg's liquid aminos or soy sauce for each person to add to taste.
- Extra lemongrass mayo keeps in a covered container in the refrigerator for 7 days.