Vegan banh mi with lemongrass meatballs

Vegan banh mi with lemongrass meatballs

vegan banh mi lemongrass meatballs baguette

After a pretty rough week, I’m back with some renewed inspiration and a promise to myself to look after my mental health a little bit better by staying off social media more (it makes me feel anxious and inadequate) and do more self care when I feel myself spiralling out of control.

Yeah, the past week has not been the greatest. I was feeling awful, the weather was (continues to be) miserable and our beloved cat (who can do no wrong, says Duncan) gifted the household with a prolific amount of fleas!! Yup, there are fleas in the house and they are driving us crazy. It got a bit better since we started our daily hoovering routine but they have not yet been defeated completely. A special anti-flea powder arrived in the post yesterday and we plan to spend our evening combing our living room rug for eggs and larvae – yuk! – dusting them and hoovering them up eventually. Luckily we only have one rug downstairs, fingers crossed this works!

Recipe-wise, I felt like something fresh and summery even if England appears to have missed the ‘hello, it’s summer’ memo this year. I have made delicious lemongrass-flavoured aubergine and tofu meatballs and have served them, Vietnamese style, inside a crusty white baguette, adorned with quick pickles and Sriracha mayo. It’s a delicious combo, fresh, spicy, zingy yet filling at the same time. The meatballs can be either fried or baked. If you decide to bake yours don’t add too much more flour as baking tends to dry things out more. If you are not keen on the sandwich format, you can always have them as part of a lunch bowl like in this old recipe. I hope you’ll enjoy them!

vegan banh mi ingredients

lemongrass meatballs raw cooked

vegan banh mi lemongrass meatballs

vegan banh side on

30 min
45 min
30 min
45 min

  • 12 cm / 5″ English cucumber
  • 1 medium carrot or 5 radishes
  • 120 ml / ½ cup (unseasoned) rice vinegar
  • 4 tbsp / ¼ cup sugar or maple syrup, adjust to taste
  • 1 tsp salt


  • 250 g / 8¾ oz (1 large) aubergine / eggplant
  • 3 lemongrass stalks*
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1½ tsp sambal oelek (or Sriracha), adjust to taste
  • 2 small spring onions
  • 15 g / ½ oz fresh coriander
  • ½ tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp black or white pepper
  • ¾-1 tsp fine salt, adjust to taste
  • 250 g / 8¾ oz firm tofu, pressed*
  • 3 tsp psyllium husks (optional)
  • approx. 30 g / ¼ cup rice flour or other flour
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp high smoke point oil (I used rice bran oil), for frying


  • 1 crusty baguette, cut into 12 cm / 5″ sections
  • 6 tbsp vegan mayo
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp Sriracha, adjust to taste


  1. Julienne cucumber (discard the watery core) and carrot or, if using radishes, slice them thinly.
  2. In a pot combine rice vinegar with the same volume of water, most of the sugar and salt. Bring the mixture to a very gentle simmer stirring so that the sugar dissolves, taste and adjust the amount of sugar and salt to your liking.
  3. Take the pickling liquid off the heat and plunge raw vegetables in it. Leave them to pickle while you get on with the meatballs.


  1. Heat up your oven to 200º C / 390º F and line a baking tray with a piece of baking paper.
  2. Cut your aubergine / eggplant into thick slices (about 1.5 cm / 0.6″) and arrange them on the prepared baking tray (no need to grease). Bake until soft (about 25 minutes), flipping the slices to the other side at the half way point. Allow them to cool down completely.
  3. Bash lemongrass stalks with a rolling pin until bruised. Remove tough outer layers and chop up soft aromatic cores well before adding to the food processor. Add cooked aubergine and all the ingredients up until but apart from the tofu. Process until well minced, then transfer to a mixing bowl.
  4. Next, tear the tofu roughly and then blitz it until you get a coarse, uniform mixture – be careful not to overprocess as the meatballs will be mushy. Add the tofu to the aubergine mixture.
  5. Mix in psyllium husks (if using) and flour, start off with ¼ cup and add more later if the mixture is too wet after chilling. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 1 hour prior to frying the meatballs.
  6. Once chilled, squeeze portions of the mixture in your palm to make it stick to itself and then roll into balls (mine were 20 g / ¾ oz each) in your hands. If the mixture is too wet, add a touch more flour, but don’t go crazy, especially if you intend to bake your meatballs, as baking will dry them out a bit more than frying.
  7. Fry meatballs in hot oil until browned on all sides. Alternatively you could also bake them on a lightly oiled tray, in a 180° C / 355° F oven for 25-30 minutes, flipping them halfway through.


  1. Cut your baguettes in half, toast the insides on a hot griddle pan or under a grill / broiler.
  2. Combine mayo with Sriracha, adjust to your taste.
  3. Spread Sriracha mayo inside the baguettes, fill them with pickles, warm meatballs and lots of fresh coriander.

*LEMONGRASS: I have tried using lemongrass paste, which is more convenient but it does not deliver nearly as much flavour in my opinion. If you have found one you like, you can use that instead.

*TOFU: You could sub with approximately 250 g / 1½ cups of cooked chickpeas.

15 g
17 g
2 g
10 g
48 g
*per serving
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8 reviews, 19 comments
Hi Ania, I love this recipe. I will be making them next week for a dinner party of between 6-8 people. Do you have any recommendations for starters/small plates to have alongside? I’ll be making your banana muffins for dessert!
    Hi Sophie,
    I am delighted to hear that you enjoy these. In terms of appetisers, I guess I would go for a pan-Asian theme so perhaps: seaweed chips, spring rolls, scallion pancakes, fritters. It's a lot of work though. Perhaps instead of serving them in a bun, you could make them into a course by serving them alongside steamed rice and some Asian-inspired slaw like here and maybe spring rolls to open with and a dessert? Hope this helps a litte? x Ania
Since both my aubergine and lemongrass has been going crazy in the veggy patch this recipe was exactly what I neeed! We just had this for dinner and loved it. I doubled on both aubergine and lemongrass (because I have too much of it) which of course makes the mixture more liquid. That way the neatballs don't turn out perfectly round but still hold together when fried in enough hot oil. Wouldn't work in the oven though.
Will definitly make this again.
    Glad you enjoyed them, Nese and that you are planning to make them again. Too much homegrown aubergine and lemongrass is a good problem to have ;) x Ania
Hi Ania, this recepie looks amazing! I think it would be perfect for my non-vegan friends. I have some powdered lemon grass, do you think I can work with that, and how much would you suggest I put in?
Thanks a lot!
    Thanks Eni, I hope it will go down well. I have never come across powdered lemon grass so I cannot really tell you how much to use, but a good thing about it being all plants and no egg is that you can safely taste the mixture as you go along :) Hope it will work out well! Ania
This was great. I am trying vegan dishes for the family now and this was a great success! Will be making it again and trying other recipes too! Thank you! x
    Thank you, I'm delighted to hear that you and your family loved it! And I hope you'll find some other enjoyable recipes too. x Ania
Mike Armour:
Didn’t quite buy enough lemongrass but they were still amazing. Thank you for such a delicious recipe
    Thanks Mike, I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed them! x Ania
David Rodwell:
I have a massive aversion to aubergine / eggplant, is there anything you would recommend as a replacement. Most of it I think is physiological, but since its ,e making them, then that doesn’t help.
    Hi David,
    How about mushrooms? They are probably the closest texture wise I can think of. Otherwise, I've also made them with cooked sweet potato before? Chickpeas will also work. You just need to go by feel in terms of how much flour to add, that's all. Hope this helps! Ania
Jessi Bustamante:
I'm very excited to make this, but I do think the prep or the cooking time should include the one hour chill period. I will prep the mixture tonight and make tomorrow given this situation.
    Hi Jessi,
    I'm sorry if you got caught out, but I follow widely accepted recipe writing convention whereby waiting time is excluded from the prep time. I hope you'll enjoy them. Ania
Holly Everitt:
I made these in my air fryer, they came out great, really crispy and tasty. Also flying goose do ready mixed vegan sriracha mayo 😀
    Great to hear that you enjoyed these, Holly! Yes, I do have a bottle of it at the back of my fridge somewhere ;) but I prefer to mix it myself so that I can adjust spiciness to my liking. x Ania
Ania you mentioned a well known blogger who is stealing your material… is there some way you can let us know who it is so that I/we can drop her, if we happen to follow her in any form?
    Hi Sally,
    Aw, thank you for your willingness to stand up for me - I really appreciated it. The trouble is that she has already threatened me with a lawyer for calling her out in this Instagram post and it doesn't matter if I am right or not, I don't have the money for going to court and given that she has no moral compass whatsoever and is clearly a bully, I don't think there is any point going there - not good for one's mental health. Thank you though, I really appreciate you having my back. x Ania
Like all your recipes, this looks amazing! Thanks - i will definitely try it!
    Thanks so much, I hope you'll enjoy this recipe as much as the others. x Ania
will be making this soon i never banh mi and vietnamese food before perfect for my office snacks will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya
    Great to hear, hope you'll enjoy it! x Ania
thank you for the recipe.
as far as fleas: Diatomaceous earth - human grade is my recommendation.
    We've already purchased the magic powder, but thanks for the tip. It will be my next port of call. Cheers! Ania
Alison Wilkin:
These look delicious! There’s just two of us, so can I make a full batch of meatballs and freeze them?
Also, I use lemongrass spice drops, they’re pretty good!
    Hi Alison,
    I have not tried freezing these in particular and freezing tofu does change its texture so just beware. This recipe only makes about 20 meatballs so that's literally 2 dinners in a row for two people unless me and my husband eat like horses ;) (entirely possible). Thanks for the tip, I have never heard of those - will Google them. The pastes I've tried have been pretty disappointing...Hope you'll enjoy these. x Ania
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