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Vegan Tofu Bánh Mì (Vietnamese Sub)

My husband and I have been watching a documentary on the Vietnamese War in an attempt to better understand where Raymond's father came from.

One of the things we learned about was that even though the United States did not become involved in Vietnam until much later, a lot of what began the process of upheaval started with French colonization in the 1800's.

We all know colonialization was bad, especially in the way it upset long peaceful countries. We also know colonialization still plays a role in culture despite many countries having returned to "independence".

The Vietnamese culture has kept one element of French cuisine that I find rather interesting! Bread! The French colonists introduced the baguette to the Vietnamese people, who referred to it as "bánh tây" or "bánh mì", meaning "western bread" or "wheat bread".

The use of this bread evolved into what we now consider "Viet Subs", which, at least in Calgary, can be bought on about every other street.

I honestly was not a huge fan of these subs the first time I tried one. But that was largely due to the variety of meats used in them. There are generally "vegetarian" offerings, which include literally the bread and veggies and nothing else, but I wanted to develop a vegan alternative that had a good source of protein to make it more satisfying.

While I could have just used some smoked tofu or grilled some slices of tofu/tempeh, I was going to make my savory ground tofu for some Vietnamese salad rolls anyway and decided it was what I was going to put in my vegan bánh mì. I'm glad I decided this as I think it turned out very well! Hence me going ahead and posting this recipe for you all.

Step 1 is to prep your bread. Turn your oven to 300°F. Then cut your baguette into 2 halves, and then slicing those 2 halves open and placing them on a baking sheet. If desired, you can baste with a little olive oil to help crisp the bread in the oven.

Next, grate 1/2 to 1 full carrot (depending on size) and mix with 1 tbsp rice vinegar to make "pickled" carrots. Let sit for 10 minutes.

I used a purple carrot which is why this is such a pretty color!

Next, take 1/2 block of extra firm tofu (pre-pressed for around 10 minutes) and place it in a cast iron pan- I used cast iron so I didn't have to worry about scratching. If you only have non-stick pans, then pre-mash the tofu into a ground meat consistency before adding it to the pan.

Add in the hoisin, tamari, garlic powder, onion powder, and siracha and stir fry until dryer and resembling ground meat.

This is a full block of tofu in the picture because I was using it for another recipe.

Once this has begun to cook, place the bread in the oven to crisp up for 5 minutes.

At this point, you can also quickly prep the sauce. Mix 1 tbsp vegan mayo with 1 clove of garlic and desired amount of siracha.

Once your tofu has cooked, your bread is crispy but still a bit soft, your mayo and veggies are prepped, then you can assemble!

Traditional bánh mì vegetables include pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber, green onion, cilantro, red onion, jalapeno or another chili, among other things.

I kept mine simple and westernized it a little by using avocado and swapping out the hot chili for red bell pepper. Essential to keep is the cilantro though! And the garlic mayo sauce (my favorite part).

This totally hit the spot for me! As tempting as deli meat has been throughout my pregnancy (NOT), I've found enough ways to satisfy my sandwich craving without deli meat. Not only is this beneficial for me as a pregnant lady, but as a human being who doesn't want to put carcinogenic processed meats into her body. I urge you to refuse to do the same!

Here's the full recipe!

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Vegan Bahn Mi
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