Bánh Mì Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Meatball Sandwich)

Traditional bánh mì can be made with or without meat, and as I’ve seen in many restaurants and online recipes, tofu is a go-to filling. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my tofu in soup, sandwiches, whatever. But sometimes a vegetarian needs a break, you know? I’m sick of it. So I went with another soy-based protein, but one that spices things up a bit.

I made the meatball recipe and pickled veggies in advance so putting together the sandwiches took no time. The hardest part of this recipe is cutting all the vegetables into match sticks. It looks great, the texture is perfect once it’s in the sandwich, but damn it’s annoying. Maybe I don’t have a good technique down yet.

I was super hungry when I made this—it was lunchtime and I hadn’t eaten breakfast, so naturally I wanted to take photos as quickly as possible and devour my amazing-smelling masterpiece. Unfortunately, as hungry people tend to be, I was getting impatient and while rushing to take photos, dropped my sandwich on the floor. I was trying to put it all back together nicely for photos, while cleaning sriracha off my kitchen floor and swearing, thinking about my increasingly room-temperature sandwich. Luckily I had just cleaned everything (and the five-second rule is in effect here) so I still ate it and had no regrets, except for maybe being so clumsy.

Bánh Mì Chay

Bánh Mì Chay


Makes 4 sandwiches

For the pickled veggies:

  • 1 small daikon, cut into thin match sticks
  • 2 carrots, cut into thin match sticks
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into thin match sticks
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. each salt and sugar
  • Water as needed

For the rest:

  • 1 batch of Spicy Vegan Meatballs (you can make these days in advance)
  • 4 large Vietnamese sandwich buns, or a baguette-style loaf cut into sections and halved
  • Softened butter for spreading
  • A few shakes of garlic powder
  • A bit of mayonnaise per sandwich—this will depend on personal preference
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, washed with large stems removed
  • Sriracha hot sauce, to taste


Place the daikon, carrot, cucumber and jalapeno in a tall mason jar or an air-tight container that is liquid safe. Cover in both vinegars, salt and sugar. If the liquids don’t cover everything in your jar, use water for the rest. Tightly screw on the lid and give it a good shake, then place in the fridge for at least one hour.*

Have a batch of the vegan meatballs ready. This can be done days in advance, but they also don’t take long to make. Once they’re done, you can move on to the next step.

Set your oven to a high broil. Take each bun and spread a light amount of butter on the insides of the top and bottom, then sprinkle with a little garlic powder. Place open-faced on a baking sheet. Repeat for the remaining buns, then place in the oven (keeping a very close eye) for about 2 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven; you are now ready for assembly.

Spread each bun with your preferred amount of mayo. Stuff as many meatballs as you can into your sandwich—I’ll say four or five does the trick—then add your pickled veggies. Fill blank spaces with fresh cilantro sprigs and liberally drizzle sriracha overtop. It’s done! Try not to drop it on the floor like I did.

* This can be made days in advance, as can the meatballs, so you can make your sandwich in no time.

Bánh Mì Chay

8 Comments Add yours

  1. That’s exactly what I want for lunch. It looks so, so inviting and satisfying.

  2. Zahra says:

    This looks so yummy. I guess from your comment on cutting the veg into matchsticks you don’t have a julienne peeler?? I bought one (for a few pounds) recently to make courgette pasta and it’s brilliant. I think it would cut strips smaller than the ones you have in your photos though, so not sure if that would be ok, but worth checking out as it will save you loads of time.

    1. I actually do have one of those (the cutters that make zucchini/carrots into spaghetti) but the consistency isn’t exactly the same although it might be worth it to save me the trouble next time around 🙂

  3. This looks great! I’ve been so obsessed with banh mis lately, particularly since a place opened near my work with about SIX vegan bahn mi options…mmmm

    1. Wow that sounds fantastic!

  4. chefceaser says:

    Reblogged this on Chef Ceaser.

  5. Dragos Balan says:

    I eat food fallen on the floor regularly, no morsel left behind! 😛 Looks very satisfying!

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