These vegan banh mi tacos are stuffed with smoky baked tofu, crispy pickled veggies, fresh herbs, and dressed in spicy sriracha mayo!
I have a thing for reformatting my favorite dishes. You know what I mean? Not like, oh I made this recipe vegan, so it's reformatted, but taking the ingredients and flavors from one dish and turning it into another type of dish altogether. Like cabbage roll soup, samosa burritos, bibimbap sandwiches. That kind of thing. I don't do this to show off how clever I am (okay, maybe that's part of it), but because it improves on the dish somehow. In the case of all the recipes I just mentioned, switching things up makes them way easier to put together, and for the samosa burritos, it actually makes them healthier too!
So what's the deal with turning a sandwich into tacos? Both are equally easy to make. And one thing I hear again and again about the classic banh mi sandwich is that it's all about the bread.
That's exactly why I ditched the bread.
I'm working on and slowly improving my meal planning skills. Slowly for me means three trips to the supermarket a week instead of five...but it's something. So I want to be able to keep the ingredients on hand for dishes I can make in the middle of the week, avoiding yet another trip. With sandwiches that sometimes means using sub-stellar bread, which won't cut it when you're dealing with a sandwich that's all about the bread. So I used tortillas instead of bread. Tortillas purchased on Monday will taste just as good on Friday.
Normally I'm all about crunchy shells when I make tacos, but not with these. Since they're slathered in spicy mayo and based off a sandwich recipe, I opted to go with flour tortillas instead. You can use corn shells if you want, but I'd recommend at least making them by crisping your own shells in the oven. Those crispy store-bought shells are a sometimes guilty pleasure of mine, but I really don't think they'd be good here.
Smoky Tofu Banh Mi Tacos
For the Smoky Tofu:
- ¼ cup soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 14 ounce package extra firm tofu, drained pressed, and cut into ½ inch cubes
For the Pickled Veggies
- ½ cup julienne cut carrot, about 1 large carrot
- ½ cup julienne cut cucumber, about ½ of a medium cucumber
- 1 small julienne cut red bell pepper
- ⅓ cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Sriracha mayo
- ¼ cup vegan mayo
- ¼ cup sriracha sauce
For the Tacos
- 6 small (fajita size) flour tortillas
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup fresh cilantro
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced
- Toasted sesame seeds
Make the Smoky Tofu
Stir the soy sauce or tamari, vinegar, maple syrup or agave, sesame oil, liquid smoke, and garlic together in a shallow dish. Add the tofu cubes and gently toss to coat. Allow to marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to redistribute the marinade.
Preheat the oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the tofu cubes in an even layer on the baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the tofu pieces are a bit browned and have shrunken a bit in size.
Make the Pickled Veggies
While the Tofu Bakes, stir all ingredients for the pickled veggies together in a small bowl. Allow them to sit while you gather and prepare the remaining ingredients.
Make the Sriracha Mayo
Stir the vegan may and sriracha sauce together in a small bowl. Taste test and add a bit more mayo if you'd like it to be milder, and add some more sriracha if you'd like it hotter.
Assemble the Tacos
Divide the smoky tofu, pickled veggies, mint, basil, cilantro, and scallions among the tortillas. Drizzle with sriracha mayo, top with jalapeño slices, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.