We absolutely LOVE Vietnamese food in our house! We are so lucky to have a large number of amazing and authentic Vietnamese restaurants just a few blocks away!
Since going vegan, I’ve had to give up the beef pho and pork banh mi I once loved, so I really haven’t been to them! Today I decided enough is enough and I would just have to make it myself!
For this recipe, I can’t emphasize enough the benefit of pickling the veggies and marinading the tempeh ahead. The pickled carrots and radishes are what really make this dish taste authentic. You can begin the pickling process 1 to 3 days ahead.
Today I actually came up with this idea last minute, so I only had a few hours for the veggies to pickle (I know, I know, do as I say, not as I do). They came out crisp, fresh, but with a slight tang. It was still super delicious so if you’re short on time, don’t let it stop you!
As for the tempeh, marinading ahead really helps prevent it from having a bitter flavor. I always keep a block of it in my freezer so today I soaked it in the marinade while I let it thaw on the counter.
As a side note, if you want to make this banh mi bowl into…well…banh mi: serve it on a roll instead of over rice! We try to avoid over doing refined grains in this house (and we had pizza yesterday…whoops!), so bowl it is!
Vietnamese Inspired Banh Mi Bowl
A fun, healthy twist on your favorite Vietnamese street food.
- For the pickled vegetables:
- 1/2 pound carrots, julienned or sliced thin
- 1/2 pound radishes, julienned or sliced thin
- 1/4 of a head of red cabbage (optional)
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup white or rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 block tempeh
- 2 tbsp cooking oil (I used sesame)
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup white or rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sriracha or chili garlic sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
- brown rice (1 cup dry)
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- fresh cilantro, chopped
- fresh basil, chopped
- fresh scallions, chopped (optional)
- fresh lime for serving
For the tempeh:
For the bowl:
- Before any other steps, start with pickling the veggies. Julienne the carrots and radishes, or slice extremely thin. Slice your red cabbage thin as well if you are using it. Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Taste test the pickling liquid and add more vinegar, sugar, salt, or water as needed to balance the flavor to your liking. Pour over the vegetables and keep in an air tight container with a lid overnight or up to 3 days ahead. I also recommend pickling the cabbage in a separate container from the carrots and radishes. Remember to reserve the pickling juice for sprinkling over your bowl at the end!
- Marinade the tempeh. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, water, sriracha (or chili garlic sauce), ginger, and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro in a bowl. Mix together and pour over tempeh. Marinade in a container with lid for at least one hour, making sure to turn once halfway through.
- Begin making your brown rice. Submerge the rice in water and boil 30 min, then drain, return to stove top and let sit with lid to steam for 5 minutes before fluffing with fork. Chop the remaining cilantro, basil, scallions, and slice up your cucumber while the brown rice is cooking.
- Time to make the tempeh! Heat 2 tbsp cooking oil in a large pan on medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the tempeh and the remaining marinade. Cook the tempeh approx 5 minutes on each side. The tempeh is ready when it has a puffed look from absorbing the liquid and is slightly browned on both sides. When finished cooking, cut into slices and set aside.
- Assemble your bowl! Spoon in some brown rice and pile on the cilantro, basil, scallions, cucumber, pickled vegetables, and tempeh to your liking. Squeeze some fresh lime on top and spoon on a drizzle of your leftover pickling liquid. Enjoy!
I hope you guys enjoy this recipe as much as I did! It was so easy, delicious, and perfect for summer. Let me know what you think!