Vegetarian Banh Mi

The first time I had a banh mi was in Hong Kong.  It was a very small place near my old apartment in Wanchai.  Just the thought of it brought back a lot of memories.  Most of them weren't so pleasant actually.  I was going through a transition period in life.  I honestly don't even know if the restaurant still exists.  But the most recent and also unforgettable banh mi that I've had was in London.  

This place is called Hanoi Cafe.  I still got the name card in my wallet.  It was an unexpected visit brought by my partner in crime, Anita.  Ever since then, I've always wanted to replicate something similar.  So now that I am in Hong Kong, it is much easier to gain access to some of these ingredients which I can't get in Italy.  That's also how this recipe came to light.  

My first time of making a banh mi and there is certainly the next time because it was pretty awesome.  :)  I blended both Western and Asian ingredients to make this sandwich.  Here goes my other fusion confusion addition.  

Vegetarian Banh Mi

Servings: 2 sandwiches

Preparation Time: 10-15 minutes

Cooking Time: 5 minutes



For the lime yogurt-mayo dressing:

4-5 tbsp yogurt

2-3 tbsp mayonnaise

1 fresh lime juice & zest

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

For olive tapenade: 

1 can black olives

1 garlic clove

1 bunch parsley

1 tbsp capers

1 red chili, seeded

extra-virgin olive oil

(blend all ingredients in a blender and season)

For the fresh coriander pesto: 

1 bunch fresh coriander

1 garlic

1 shallot

1 fresh lime juice

extra-virgin olive oil

(blend all ingredients in a blender and season)

For fillings: 

150-200g firm tofu, 1/2 inch slice 

2-3 tbsp soy sauce

1-2 tsp honey

1 tbsp sesame oil

(marinate tofu with 2-3 tbsp soy sauce, 1-2 tsp honey, and a drizzle of sesame oil)

1 carrot, shredded

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

3-4 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp brown sugar

(marinate carrot and cucumber in 3-4 tbsp rice vinegar and 1 tsp brown sugar to make these fresh pickles.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes beforehand)

4-5 tbsp olive tapenade

1-2 tbsp fresh coriander pesto

1 small baguette, sliced into two halved size sandwiches

1 small bunch fresh coriander


1.  Preheat a small frying pan with olive oil on medium heat, cook the marinated tofu 2-3 minutes each side until they turn golden brown.  Heat off.  Set aside.  

2.  Start assembling the sandwiches with olive tapenade, stir-fry tofu, fresh pickles, fresh coriander pesto, and lime yogurt-mayo dressing.

3.  Garnish with some coriander before serving.  

Vegetarian Banh Mi

Vegetarian Banh Mi

Vegetarian Banh Mi

some easy starters..

This pumpkin salad is dedicated to a dear friend who loves pumpkin so SO much.  Every time we have potluck at hers or her boyfriend's place, she would ask me to make something with pumpkin.  I know it's not exactly the pumpkin season right now but we are fortunate to have the luxury to get them from a few local farms here in Yuen Long.  I especially like the mini squash because they give off a much sweeter flavor.  

Another starter that I always make is bruschetta.  There are many different ways to make bruschetta.  I usually make it according to what I have in my fridge or what I can get in the nearest supermarket.  There are times when I can't find mozzarella cheese (like today) and if it happens, I usually just skip it.  And sometime if I happen to pass by Il Bel Paese, I would grab a small bowl of fresh olives in oil to add to my bruschetta.  Just be flexible and creative.  Our imagination is unlimited.  :) 

Have a good week ahead! x

some easy starters for a mini gathering.

Servings: 4 persons 

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes


1 mini pumpkin, deseeded & skin removed, chopped in wedges

1 large bowl arugula or mixed greens

1-2 sprig sage leaves

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 chili, seeded, finely chopped

extra-virgin olive oil


1) Preheat the oven at 180ºC.  Get a baking tray, drizzle a little oil, add pumpkin, sage, garlic, and chili.*  

2) Roast the pumpkin for about 15-20 minutes.  Try to stir and flip the pumpkins in midway.  

3) Once the pumpkins are ready, mix them with the greens.  Season, add more oil, and ready to serve! Simple!! 

* If you don't like your garlic, chili, and sage a little burnt, add them to the pumpkin a few minutes after roasting.  

Servings: 4 persons

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 1-2 minutes for toasting the bread


1 small loaf baguette

1 garlic clove, minced half garlic and leave the other half to brush the bread's surface

200g - 250g cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced or chopped according to the size that you like

2 tbsp basil pesto*

1 tbsp pine nuts

1 tsp caper, finely chopped

extra-virgin olive oil

*Remark: To make the basil pesto, simply blend a bunch of fresh basil leaves, 1/2 garlic clove, 1 tsp of roasted pine nuts, and sprinkle a bit of grated parmesan, season and add oil.  


1) Slice the baguette into 6-8 pieces and toast the bread.  

2) Get the halved garlic and rub against each bread's surface.  

3) Get a small bowl, mix pesto, tomato, minced garlic, and caper.  Season.  

4) Transfer the tomato mixture to each slice of bread and sprinkle some pine nuts on top.  Garnish with some basil leaves if you like.  I ran out of basil leaves so I couldn't do it. ;)