Banh Mi Panzanella Recipe

The flavors of banh mi in panzanella form. Morgan Eisenberg

Why It Works

  • Pressing tofu with paper towels removes moisture, allowing a good sear later.
  • Stirring rice vinegar into the chili mayo adds tang and also gives it a loose enough consistency for drizzling.

The classic flavors of Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches are reworked into the form of Italian panzanella, a salad designed to make stale bread delicious again. This version features pickled and fresh vegetables, lemongrass-marinated tofu, and two sauces that deliver spicy, sweet, and savory flavors.

Recipe Facts



Active: 60 mins
Total: 90 mins
Serves: 4 to 8 servings

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  • For the Tofu:
  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes and carefully dried (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • For the Hoisin-Honey Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • For the Chili Mayo:
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • For the Salad:
  • 1/2 stale French baguette loaf (see note), cubed
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1 recipe Vietnamese Pickled Carrots and Daikon (do chua)


  1. For the Tofu: Transfer tofu to a large zipper-lock freezer bag. In a small bowl, whisk together lemongrass, soy sauce, honey, and fish sauce. Pour marinade over tofu, press out all air from the bag, seal, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight, turning once halfway through marinating time.

  2. Drain tofu and pat dry with paper towels. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tofu and cook, turning, until crispy. Set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, for the Hoisin-Honey Sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together hoisin, rice wine vinegar, honey, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.

  4. For the Chili Mayo: In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, Sriracha, and rice wine vinegar. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.

  5. For the Salad: In a large bowl, combine tofu, bread, cucumber, jalapeños, cilantro, and drained pickled vegetables. Drizzle with hoisin-honey sauce and toss again to coat. Transfer salad to serving plate, drizzle with chili mayo and serve.


To dry tofu, line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Place tofu cubes on top in a single layer. Cover with another layer of paper towels and press gently to remove excess moisture. If using fresh bread instead of stale, cut into cubes and bake at 300°F until firm and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

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