When I first moved to the city I currently live in, I used to enjoy eating lunch at a little Vietnamese cafe down the street from my apartment. I ordered the same thing every time I stopped in–a gigantic, $5 banh mi sandwich. When I drove by the other day, I noticed the cafe had closed and re-opened into something new. Although it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten one of those sandwiches, the idea of it being gone from my life forever made me want to go home and assure myself I would be able to create my own.
Banh mi is typically made with pork and mayo which are easily swapped out with eggplant and avocado. Although tofu is a great substitute in this sandwich, I try my best to stay away from soy. What really makes this sandwich stand out is the addition of pickled carrots and daikon. This is a slaw called “do chua,” and it adds the perfect amount of tang and zest to the sandwich. You can “quick pickle” (if that’s even a term) the carrots and daikon by making them first and letting them soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, but I recommend letting them sit overnight to let the flavors infuse.
I would have also liked to add some jalapenos on top of the sandwich, but when I went out to my car, I saw that my driveway had turned into an ice skating rink overnight, and I wasn’t able to go get any. If you have access to hot peppers, toss them in!
Eggplant Banh Mi
- For the Do Chau:
- 1/2 cup spiralized or julienned carrots
- 1/2 cup spiralized or julienned daikon
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup cane sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- For the Banh Mi:
- 1 baguette, cut in half
- 1 eggplant
- 1 red pepper, julienned
- 1 cucumber, julienned
- 1/4 cup sliced scallions
- 1 avocado
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 tablepoon minced garlic
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- to taste lemon juice
- to taste salt & pepper
- handful fresh cilantro
1. Begin by preparing the do chau slaw. Mix the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and pepper in a 16 oz mason jar. Spiralize 2 carrots and about half of a daikon to get 1/2 cup of each. Add these to the mason jar and shake. Let this sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, or prepare ahead and refrigerate overnight.
2. In a large skillet, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir.
3. Slice the eggplant in to strips lengthwise, the length of the baugette. Lay these in the pan with the oil, making sure to coat both sides. Cook for 5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 5 minutes, until soft. Season with salt and pepper.
4. While the eggplant is cooking, julienne the red pepper and cucumber and toss together in a bowl. Slice open the avocado and mash into a bowl with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
5. To assemble the sandwich, cut the baguette in half, and then slice it open horizontally. Start by laying the do chau slaw on the bottom, spreading the avocado on top, and adding the eggplant in the middle. Top with the peppers and cucumbers, scallions, and cilantro.
Also by Lauren: Maca Mexican Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
Related: Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes (Video)
Get more like this—Subscribe to our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: Lauren Sacerdote