Clearly Banh MI sandwiches are one of my favorite foods. The very first recipe I ever made for my channel was for a Tofu Banh Mi sandwich. Though these Vietnamese sandwiches are often sold stuffed with lots of meats and pates, more often than not, you’ll find a banh mi shop that has at least one or two vegan options. The really special ones, my personal favorites, also offer vegan mayo.
I’ve been trying to eat my way through the Bay area, trying as many delicious foods as I can stuff in my belly (or that my wallet can afford). On a recent walk near the Castro district, I found a hidden food gem called Dinosaurs, in the bottom floor or an empty mall.
Their menu had a number of vegan items, two of them were banh mi sandwiches. The one that caught my eye first was their “crispy tofu” sandwich. I didn’t know exactly what I was getting, but when my order came up in less than a minute after ordering, I couldn’t wait to get back to my friend’s apartment to dig in.
I opened the butcher paper roll and found a tightly stuffed sandwich filled with shredded crispy tofu, and topped with cucumber spears, jalapenos, cilantro, pickled daikon and carrots, and of course, a hearty amount of vegan mayo.
That first bite had me hooked, and I went back again a few days later to order the same exact thing, along with an order of spring rolls that were filled with the same shredded crispy tofu.
As with any meal that I enjoy eating at a restaurant, I have to figure out a way to make that food for myself.
I’m still not sure exactly what the magic is that makes their crispy shredded tofu so good, so instead of going the tofu route I decided to give a similar sandwich concept a go, but using shredded oyster mushrooms instead.
If you get the chance to go to San Francisco, please stop by Dinosaurs and get the crispy tofu banh mi. You won’t be disappointed. But, if it’s going to be a while before you can pop in there, then by all means, give my Shredded Oyster Mushroom Banh Mi sandwich a try.
Here’s what you’ll need.
- Sandwich rolls or demi baguettes – With most sandwiches, but banh mi style sandwiches, the bread is very important. You really want to find a bread that has a nice crusty exterior, with a soft, fluffy interior. Admittedly, the demi baguettes that I used in the video, although good, were not optimal. They were a bit too crusty, and too dense on the interior. Use what you’ve got, or what you can find, and don’t stress about it too much.
- Pulled oyster mushrooms – I’ve been in love with oyster mushrooms ever since my very first taste of them, and I’ve made a number of recipes on my channel using them (On top of split peas, in BBQ Pulled Mushroom Walking Tacos, and fried in Ghost Pepper Fried Mushroom Sandwiches). They aren’t the easiest mushrooms to find if you’re looking at traditional supermarkets, but places like Whole Foods or farmers market will usually let you buy them by the pound. Maitake mushrooms will also work the same way that oyster mushrooms will work. Same with king oyster mushrooms. If you can only find button or cremini or even portobello mushrooms, then go ahead and use those, broken apart and ripped up by hand.
- Pickled daikon and carrot – Adding crunch and acidity and a bit of sweetness, the pickled daikon and carrot component of this sandwich is not to be left out. Don’t even consider it. Normally, they are pickled together, but because of the difficulty I had finding whole carrots during the time that I filmed this video (yes, that was a real thing!), I pickled them separately. Using a julienne peeler for both is honestly the way to go, but I didn’t have one at the time, so hopefully you can see that it can be done without such a luxury.
- Sliced jalapeno – I love spice. I really do. But more than that, I love the green, verdant flavor that the jalapeno lends to these sandwiches. If you just can’t stand the heat, then leave them off altogether. There really is not sub. If you like a little warmth, but not a ton of heat, then make sure that you take out the ribs and seeds before putting them on your sandwich.
- Fresh cilantro – I know. It’s always a love/hate relationship with cilantro. I love it, and I love what it brings to the party. If you just CAN’T with cilantro, then don’t. Don’t worry about substituting anything in for it.
- Cucumber spears – Honestly, this was a new experience for me on a banh mi, but after the sandwich I loved at Dinosaur, I could see why you would want to add cucumber spears to your sandwich. Slices would be fine, too, but i just really like the hearty crunch of the cucumber spears.
- Vegan mayo – I know I’ve said that every ingredient is very important, but I promise that mayo is really really important. I love the Best Foods (Hellmann’s, depending on your geographic location) mayo, and FYH’s Veganaise. Honestly, any vegan mayo is fine. Just be generous with it.
- Vegetarian Hoisin sauce – It wasn’t until my friend Adam and I started eating our sandwiches that we realized that they could truly benefit from a bit of hoisin sauce. Into the cupboards we went, applied a thin drizzle to the top of our sandwiches, and dove in for another bite. Heaven. It truly brought all of the flavors together. Can’t believe that I didn’t think of it first! If you’re feeling extra adventurous, add a couple of teaspoons of hoisin to the mushrooms before putting them onto the sandwiches. Epic. A puddle of it on your plate for dipping is great as well. Choose your own adventure.
- Sriracha or sambal – To gild the lily. If you like sriracha or sambal, you’ll love it here.
Vegan Pulled Oyster Mushroom Banh MI Style Sandwich
- Sandwich rolls or demi baguettes
- Pulled oyster mushrooms (recipe below)
- Pickled daikon and carrot (recipe below)
- Sliced jalapeno
- Fresh cilantro
- Cucumber spears (peeled, seeded, cut into strips)
- Vegan mayo
- Vegetarian Hoisin sauce
- Sriracha or sambal
- 1 pound tree oyster mushrooms*
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil or light sesame oil
- 1 to 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 to 2 teaspoons brown sugar or sweetener of choice
- 1 medium daikon radish
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 to 2 cups rice wine or white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Start by removing each mushroom petal from the bunch, and then pulling each one apart into thin ribbons. Continue until all mushrooms have been “pulled”.
- Heat your skillet on medium-high heat. Add oil, quickly followed by the mushrooms. Toss to coat the mushrooms in the oils, and then allow them to cook and caramelize, fighting the urge to stir or toss them. Every couple of minutes, toss, redistribute, and then step back and let them do their thing.
- Push the mushrooms to the point that is most comfortable for you. I like them to be quite caramelized and golden for optimal flavor. They shouldn’t be slimy, they should be meaty.
- Remove the cooked mushrooms from the heat, sprinkle with brown sugar and soy sauce. Toss, taste, and then add more sugar or sauce as needed. Set aside, being careful not to eat the whole batch out of the pan while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Peel our daikon and carrots and then slice into thin ribbons with a knife or a julienne peeler. Stuff the carrots and daikon into one or 2 jars, depending on the size of your jars. Add the sugar and salt, and then fill the jar/s with enough vinegar to cover the veggies. Securely twist on the lid/s and shake the jars to distribute the ingredients evenly.
- Allow them to rest for no less than an hour, or refrigerate for up to a week until ready to use.
- Slice your rolls or baguettes, being careful not to slice all the way through. Gently push in some of the interior of the bread to make room for the filling.
Generously apply vegan may to the inside of the roll before adding half of the pulled mushrooms into each one. Top with cucumber spears. Pickled daikon and carrot, jalapeno slices, and a few sprigs of fresh cilantro. Serve immediately with sriracha and vegetarian hoisin sauce on the side, or wrap tightly in parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to enjoy.
*If you want to try this recipe, but can’t find tree oyster mushrooms, then just use the same amount of whatever mushrooms you’ve got on hand. Just thinly slice them, and proceed with the recipe.
**This recipe is scale-able depending on the amount of daikon and carrot you have. You want an equal portion of carrots and daikon. The basic pickling liquid ratio is 1 part vinegar to 1 part water to a half part of sugar and ¼ part salt.