TODAY ON WILL IT SKILLET? – EGGPLANT BANH MI’S. Yes, I used my cast iron to cook the eggplant for these Banh Mi’s…because why wouldn’t I? The cast iron gives it a nice, crisp, brown edge but you can obviously use whatever pan you have. Orrr even better if you have a grill it would be amazing grilled!
Now I’m not totally confident what kind of meat is normally in a classic Vietnamese Banh Mi, but I do know that I love cilantro and pickled veggies, so I’m all aboard putting it on baguette. Scratch the meat out (although BBE and I have made really good ones with chicken meatballs) and replace it with eggplant! It sounds weird I know – but I promise it doesn’t taste weird!
I don’t think eggplant gets enough credit. Once eggplant is cooked it becomes tender, creamy and meaty. I mean, how delicious is eggplant parm!? It’s actually the perfect “sub”stitute (see what I did there?) for meat here, and it’s really delicious and nutritious. The hot and meaty eggplant is the perfect contrast to the cool and crisp pickled veggies!
Honestly though the real star for me is the peanut sauce. Personally I could eat peanut sauce on anything, I think it’s a magic condiment. It’s sweet and salty and spicy – it’s basically everything that you’d want in a sauce. And peanut butter. Delicious, beautiful peanut butter. Oh and it’s super easy to make!
If you are one of those people who’s genetic makeup does not like cilantro then this sandwich isn’t for you because cilantro is a pretty necessary topping. I guess you could leave it out, but it adds such a nice flavour and freshness to it!
The hardest part of making this sandwich is honestly just cutting the veggies for pickling. After that it’s uber easy. Get the veggies pickling, make the sauce (no cooking required), and quickly slice and fry the eggplant. Top a nice, fresh, crunchy baguette with sauce, pickles, eggplant, cucumber, banana peppers and cilantro – and BAM you have a deliciously wicked vegan Banh Mi in no time! I will warn you though – this sandwich is MESSSSYYY.
Oh bonus – you get to keep the leftover sauce (as if you won’t be eating the leftovers with a spoon) and the pickled veggies in the fridge for a few days to use again!
This is an awesome vegan sandwich…it’s:
- Vegan (in case you couldn’t tell from the title and line above…duh);
- Easy to make it to your taste – cut down on the spice or add more!;
- Made with healthy veggies (Mmm..eggplant and cucumber!);
- Spicy, creamy, crunchy, sweet and tart;
- Easy to make;
- Topped with a super amazing peanut sauce that you will eat on everything;
- Messy – just like a sandwich should be;
- Great alternative to the classic Bahn Mi; and
- Absolutely delicious sandwich for your sandwich portfolio!
Eggplant Banh Mi (Vegan)
- 1 Eggplant (about 1 pound)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 cup julienned carrots
- 1 cup julienned radish
- 1/2 rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Pinch of chili flakes – to taste
- 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (no room for crunchy here)
- 1/4 minced green onion
- 1 clove of grated garlic
- 1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
- 2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- Sriracha (to taste)
- 1 tbsp. water (you can add more if you want the sauce thinner)
- 1 french baguette (cut the same length as the eggplant!)
- 1 cup fresh cilantro to top
- Banana peppers or jalapenos (optional) to top
- Sliced cucumber to top
Start by making the pickled veggies. Combine carrots, radishes, vinegar, salt, sugar and chili flakes in a bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let sit for mininum 15 minutes (but it’s good to let them sit a bit longer).
Make the sauce. In a bowl combine peanut butter, green onions, ginger, lime juice, garlic, soy sauce, sriracha and water. Stir to combine. If you want your sauce a little thinner, slowly add more water until you have a consistency that you like!
Heat a cast iron pan, non stick pan or a grill to medium/high heat. Cut the bottom and top stem of the eggplant off and slice lengthwise in 1/4 inch thick slices. Oil your pan or grill and cook each side of the eggplant until it’s brown and tender about 5-7 minutes.
But your baguette into desired sandwich size (easiest to cut it the length of your eggplant slices!) Slice your piece of crispy baguette in half lengthwise. Spread some of the peanut sauce on each half and top with cooked eggplant, pickled veggies, sliced cucumber, banana peppers and cilantro. Mmm…delicious!