Vietnamese Tofu Sandwich

July 9, 2009


Whenever I return from vacation, especially if we have been back East visiting the Baltimore clan, I feel the need to eat really healthy and clean.  This past trip was a little better than others because we were staying in a house.  This meant I was able to cook a few meals and eat some healthy food.  One night I made Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas and another I made a Niçoise Salad.  By contrast, one night we ate at a crab shack where my choices were limited to the side dishes part of the menu.  When I asked the waitress if I could have just a baked potato instead of “cheesy smashed potatoes” she said, “I’m not sure if I have ever seen a whole potato back there.”  True story.

I ate a lot of salad but I also ate a lot of french fries off my boys’ plates.  I also fully enjoyed happy hour.  In other words, by this week I was definitely feeling the need for some tofu.  When I’m feeling that need, I turn to Asian food.


I made these sandwiches last spring for my clients.  I remember having an “oh wow” moment with my first bite.  That is always a good sign.  I’m happy to report I had an “oh double wow” moment with last night’s first bite. A “why don’t I make this every week?” moment.  If you like these flavors, you will love this sandwich.

A few notes on the recipe.  By all means, make the pickles in advance.  I made them the day before but the recipe states you can keep them for several weeks in the refrigerator.  You will want to dry your tofu very well before pan-frying it, otherwise it will splatter something fierce when it hits the oil.  I dry each piece individually with a paper towel.  The tofu mixture can be made several hours in advance and sit out at room temperature – I think the flavor improves if you do so.


One Year Ago: Raspberry Cream Cookies

Tai’s Vietnamese Tofu Sandwich
Adapted from Everyday Greens
Makes 4 sandwiches

Carrot-Daikon Radish Pickles (recipe follows)
1 package extra firm tofu, 12-16 ounces
Vegetable oil for frying (DT: I used peanut oil)
Salt and pepper
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 cups flavorful chopped canned tomatoes, with their juice
2 tbsp. Tamari or other soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sugar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 soft French rolls (DT: I used small ciabatta)
12 to 16 cilantro sprigs

Make the Carrot-Daikon Radish pickles.

Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch-thick slices, cut each slice into quarters, and each quarter into two triangles.  Pour enough oil into a large non-stick skillet to thoroughly coat the bottom and heat just until below the point of smoking, when the first wisp of vapor appears.  Fry the tofu until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes per side.  Drain the tofu on paper towels, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp. of the tofu frying oil in a skillet, add the shallots, 1/4 tsp. salt, and a pinch of pepper, and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Sir in the garlic and ginger, adding a little water if needed to keep everything from  sticking to the apn.  Add the tomatoes, tamari, sugar, and the cayenne and cook until the tomatoes thicken, about 15 minutes.  Add the tofu and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Cut the rolls in half and scoop out the centers.  Spoon the filling into the bottom halves of the rolls, making sure to include all of the sauce.  Scatter 1/4 cup of the pickles and a few sprigs of cilantro over the filling.  Place the top on each sandwich, press it down to hole the filling in place, and slice in half on the diagonal.


Carrot-Daikon Radish Pickles
Makes 1 quart

2 large carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 large daikon radish, peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno chili, seeded, and finely chopped
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

Place the carrots, daikon, onions, and chili in a bowl.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and pour over the carrot mixture.  Set aside for at least an hour to pickle, or transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate.


  1. I love the Vietnamese veggie/tofu sandwiches that I can get in my neighbourhood and have always thought I should try and make them on my own. I’ll start with your recipe as it looks amazing!

    Comment by kickpleat — July 9, 2009 @ 4:49 pm

  2. Welcome back from your vacation! This looks absolutely wow indeed and I was shocked to read it is adapted from Everyday Greens – I have had that book for years, cook from it (and all other Greens book) on a regular basis and yet I NEVER noticed this recipe. I just put a big yellow sticky on the page and will try it soon :)
    Thank you for the inspiration!

    Comment by Yannik — July 9, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

  3. Yum! I never make these because I live so close to lots of Vietnamese delis. But it certainly wouldn’t kill me to try them at home :) And what happened to not cooking?!

    Comment by The Leftoverist — July 9, 2009 @ 9:11 pm

  4. Never seen the recipe in the cookbook either. So glad you are blogging about it. Looks like a sandwich I would enjoy every bite of it.

    Comment by Hélène — July 9, 2009 @ 11:51 pm

  5. I’ve heard many people talk about how awesome Vietnamese sandwiches are but I never bothered looking for them because I assumed they contained meat. So thanks for sharing this! Saving the recipe. =)

    Comment by Ashley — July 10, 2009 @ 4:53 am

  6. OMG, that sandwich looks absolutely delicious. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Wendy — July 10, 2009 @ 5:26 pm

  7. Hi Dana!
    Was nice to meet you yesterday.
    I stopped by to check out your blog. It’s beautiful.
    I’ll visit again…

    Comment by Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food. — July 10, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

  8. I never though of putting tofu for my sandwich. Very inventive indeed. Sounds delicious and must try it since I love tofu so much!

    Comment by elra — July 10, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

  9. That looks like a double-wow at the very least. I definitely have to try this. When are you opening that sandwich shop?

    Comment by lisaiscooking — July 10, 2009 @ 8:45 pm

  10. This looks nice and healthy, perfect kind of food after a vacation. I always feel the need to “detox” a bit after vacations. Although I make it a point to eat very healthy, even when away, it’s always hard to keep your routine diet and I always feel sort of, well, gross after!
    You went to school in France?! What an experience!

    Comment by Marta — July 11, 2009 @ 9:37 pm

  11. Seeing as I’m just back from vacation, I agree this looks like the perfect holiday detox food. I’m always hearing great things about Vietnamese sandwiches (are these banh mi?) but I’ve never had one. This is definitely one to try this week!

    Comment by Hilary — July 12, 2009 @ 8:25 pm

  12. I love, love, love pickled vegetables! I’ll eat this by itself or with a hot cup of rice. Yum!

    Comment by midori — July 13, 2009 @ 5:07 am

  13. Dana, I made these for dinner tonight and boy, were they a hit! (The part I’m embarrassed to tell you is that we had to use up some sausage so I made them with sausage instead of tofu.) Anyway, my boyfriend’s favourite food is sandwiches and he said, “I know sandwiches. This is an AMAZING sandwich!”, then he started to list off all the components he liked about it. He’s just announced that the sandwich was so good, he is having a beer to celebrate ;)

    We’ll be making these again – next time with tofu!

    Comment by Hilary — July 15, 2009 @ 7:26 pm

  14. […] Vietnamese sub I have always been a fan of the cilantro, pickled carrot and spicy chicken sandwich and this is a good twist on the traditional. (I made mine with chicken and not tofu like in the recipe.) […]

    Pingback by In the kitchen « Hello — January 31, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

  15. Amazing photos, they trully made me instantly hungry.

    Thanks for this recipe. I am a big fan of tofu and I think this will be on my menu this week. It really looks delicious.

    Comment by Tofu — January 16, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

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