These moist, juicy vegan meatballs made from tofu are coated in a sweet and sour glaze and paired with a crispy baguette. Enjoy these tofu meatball banh mi with fresh herbs and sweet, spicy, savory sauce! A taste of freshness and vibrance in one bite.
These tofu meatballs are perfect for making ahead of time in batch, as they become more flavorful over time. These meatballs can also be enjoyed with rice or noodles.
What is Banh Mi?
Banh Mi is a Vietnamese-styled sandwich with a lot of savory flavors, sauces, fresh herbs and veggies. It has influences from the French colonials. Traditionally, Banh Mi uses a mixture of Vietnamese mayonnaise, paté and hot sauce as the sauce base. Then, the Banh Mi is topped with some types of meat or egg, cucumber, pickled carrots, and fresh herbs. To keep this recipe completely plant-based and simple, I use vegan sriracha mayo and tofu meatballs. The other toppings of the banh mi remain quite authentic, making it so fresh and summery. Since it can be hard to find a Vietnamese baguette, I used the French baguette instead.
Banh Mi is my favorite breakfast option to purchase when running late for school. It has such savory, complex flavors yet is so simple and easy to make at home. In recent years, banh mi has gained more international recognition, which I can’t help but feel very grateful and proud of.
Ingredients and Substitutions for Tofu Meatball Banh Mi
For the tofu meatballs:
- Drained and crumbled tofu: tofu makes the meatballs moist, juicy and tender. To drain all excess water, you squeeze the tofu through a nut bag, strainer or cheesecloth on top of the sink. Alternatively, you can also use super firm tofu or press the tofu for 30 minutes.
- Shallot and garlic: for aromatics.
- Sauce: to create the savory, sweet, spicy flavor, the tofu is seasoned with soy sauce, ketchup, sriracha, black pepper. As a substitution for ketchup, you can use tomato paste and add 1 more tbsp sugar.
- Corn starch: to help the tofu meatballs stay
- Sweet and Sour glaze: a sticky glaze made from soy sauce, ketchup, rice vinegar and minced garlic. This sauce makes for great saucy tofu meatballs, but I also have a recipe for tofu meatballs with tomato sauce.
For assembling the Banh Mi, the combination of banh mi toppings include:
- Vegan sriracha mayo: I use a storebought sauce product, alternatively, you can combine 2 parts vegan mayonnaise and 1 part sriracha.
- Cucumber: crunchiness and freshness
- Pickled carrot: this adds the sour taste, you can buy a store-bought pickled carrot or prepare this ahead of time. Find the recipe for this in the recipe note.
- Herbs: I keep this super simple with some fresh coriander, you can also use Thai basil instead.
Tofu Meatball Banh Mi
- 400 g firm tofu
- 50 g dried wood ear mushroom
- hot water
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 shallot sub with ½ an onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbsp sriracha
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp corn starch
Sweet and Sour Glaze
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp ketchup
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup water
Assemble the Banh Mi
- vegan sriracha mayo
- ½ a cucumber
- pickled carrot
- red chili
- 1 French baguette
- coriander also known as cilantro
Make the tofu meatball
- Rehydrate the wood ear mushroom by pouring hot water on it and letting it sit for 20 minutes.50 g dried wood ear mushroom, hot water
- Meanwhile, crumble the tofu and drain excess water. Finely mince the shallot and garlic. Preheat the oven to 200°C (392°F).400 g firm tofu, 1 shallot, 2 cloves garlic
- In a mixing bowl, add the crumbled tofu, minced garlic and shallot, soy sauce, ketchup, sriracha, and black pepper. After the mushroom is hydrated, drain the water and cut into small pieces. Add the mushroom and corn starch into the mixing bowl. Mix well to combine.2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp ketchup, 1 tbsp sriracha, ½ tsp black pepper, 2 tbsp corn starch
- Shape the mixture into tofu meatballs, this recipe makes about 16-18 meatballs.
- Bake the tofu meatballs in the oven for 20 minutes.
Sweet and Sour glaze
- On a pot, heat up the soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar, and minced garlic.1 tbsp ketchup, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 clove garlic
- After the tofu meatballs are baked until golden, mix the meatballs with the sweet and sour glaze.
Assemble the Tofu Meatball Banh Mi
- Thinly slice the cucumber and chili.
- Use a bread knife to cut open the baguette, spread a thin layer of sriracha mayo, then add the vegan tofu meatballs, cucumber slices, pickled carrot, chili slices and coriander. Enjoy!