In the truest sense of the translation, the Vietnamese term “Bánh mì” refers broadly to all types of bread. Bánh literally translates to bread and mì to wheat or spelt. However, beyond its literal meaning, the term is now commonly used to specify a particular type of Vietnamese sandwich. The sandwich is traditionally meat-filled and garnished with cilantro, cucumbers, and pickled carrots + daikon with a slather of mayo, but veggie- and tofu-laden bánh mì are becoming increasingly popular.
The above is a highly simplified version of the history behind the bánh mì, and there’s much more to the sandwich than initially meets the
eye mouth. If you have a minute, give this a read for a quick yet in-depth look at the cultural factors that shaped the evolution of the beloved bánh mì. Pretty fascinating.
This recipe trades the baguette for tortillas, meat for mushrooms + mayo for a creamy cashew aioli, departing even a bit further from the most fundamental and true meaning of the term.
However, each of the guiding flavors from the long-loved sandwich are upheld within these shiitake bánh mì tacos.
Shiitake and cremini mushrooms are dry sautéed and coated in a sweet, tangy, and slightly spicy chile-tamari sauce. Then, they’re tucked into warm corn tortillas and topped with. . .
* A mound of quick pickled carrot, cucumber + daikon radish
* A few slices of fresh cucumber + red chile
* A handful of fresh cilantro, Thai basil, and mint
* A generous drizzle of smoky Sriracha cashew aioli
These little handheld bites offer a balance of flavor and a kiss of heat. The savory chile-tamari mushrooms and rich Sriracha aioli are balanced by the crisp tang of pickled vegetables and vivid punch of garden-fresh herbs.
Each and every component brings out the best within the others, yielding a dish whose whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.
Shiitake Bánh Mì Tacos with Smoky Sriracha Cashew Aioli
These Shiitake Bành Mì Tacos offer a balance of flavor and a kiss of heat. The savory chile-tamari mushrooms and rich Sriracha aioli are balanced by the crisp tang of pickled vegetables and vivid punch of garden-fresh herbs.
Quick Pickled Veggies
- 1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 1 small daikon radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1 small Persian cucumber, cut into matchsticks
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Smoky Sriracha Aioli
- 1/2 cup raw cashews*
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari
- 1 tablespoon chile-garlic paste**
- 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- Scant 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick strips
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms aka "baby bella", stemmed and thinly sliced
- 12 –14 mini corn tortillas or 8 small corn tortillas, warmed through
- 1 small Persian cucumber, thinly sliced
- Generous handful of fresh cilantro, tough stems removed
- Small handful of Thai basil, tough stems removed
- Small handful mint, tough stems remove
- 1 red chile, thinly sliced (optional)
For the Quick Pickled Veggies
Add all ingredients to a large glass jar, secure the lid, and shake for 10 to 15 seconds to mix. Keep refrigerated until ready to assemble. You'll want to allow the vegetables to soak for at least 30 minutes.
For the Smoky Sriracha Aioli
Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend on high for 2 to 3 minutes or until completely smooth. Transfer to a small glass jar or bowl, cover, and keep refrigerated until ready to assemble.
For the Chile-Tamari Shiitakes
Heat a large, well-seasoned sauté pan over high heat until hot, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the maple syrup, tamari, chile-garlic paste, rice vinegar, ground cloves (if using), and black pepper in a small spouted mixing bowl. Place within reach of the stove.
Once the pan is hot, add the mushrooms, reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, nudging them around as needed to prevent burning. It's okay if the shiitakes break down a bit. It will initially seem like the mushrooms are going burn but this is about the point when they will release their liquid. Continue cooking until there is just the tiniest amount of liquid remaining in the pan and the mushrooms have a deep golden-brown glisten to them. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the tamari mixture to the pan. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until most of the sauce is absorbed, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat.
Fill each corn tortilla with a small spoonful of the shiitakes and pickled vegetables. Top with the fresh cucumber, cilantro, basil, mint, and red chile (if using), and drizzle with the mayo. Serve immediately.
*If you're not using a high-speed blender, soak the cashews in water for at least two hours and drain before blending.
**If you can't find chile-garlic paste, substitute 1 tablespoon Sriracha plus 1 clove minced garlic.