These Banh Mi Collard Wraps are filled with caramelized tofu and fresh Vietnamese flavor!
Any other fresh roll junkies out there?? Let me introduce you to my latest obsession: vegan banh mi collard wraps.
Here’s what’s inside:
- Caramelized tofu (aka your new fav tofu)
- Pickled carrot and daikon radish matchsticks
- One thousand sprigs of cilantro
Okay, maybe not that many, but trust me when I tell you that you are going to want A LOT of cilantro.
Truth be told, I packed a lot more cilantro into these little babies than the above photo shows. However, I needed you to be able to see the other fillings, so I had to back off on the cilantro for a minute.
I REALLY wanted to put mint in these, too, but I was shooting during an ice storm and didn’t want to risk driving to the store.
Okay, let’s talk about the collard part of these collard wraps.
I first tried a collard wrap at my favorite local vegan restaurant. I was blown away by the fresh flavor and crunchy texture!
I’ve tried making fresh rolls using rice paper before, and while I love them, they always look so darn ugly. I just haven’t mastered that technique yet. When I do, you’ll be the first to know.
In the meantime, I’m perfectly content to keep making collard wraps instead!
I know a lot of people like to make these with raw collard wraps, but I prefer to steam mine for about 30 seconds to make them a bit more pliable.
Like I said, I’m not great with wrapping technique. I’m all for ways to make this easier.
The other important thing to do in order to make these easier to roll is to remove part of the thick stem.
I do this by laying a collard leaf face-down on a cutting board, then holding a sharp knife parallel to the board and slicing away as much of the stem as I can.
Then I just heat up a large pan with about a tablespoon of water in it, place the leaves inside, cover it, and steam for 30 to 60 seconds. The leaves turn a nice bright green and become much easier to roll!
These banh mi collard wraps are filled with some of my very favorite Vietnamese-style fillings: fresh coriander (cilantro), pickled veggies, and caramelized tofu.
The sweetness from the tofu pairs perfectly with the tangy pickled veggies, and it all comes together when dipped in the spicy lemongrass sauce.
Lemongrass can be a bit tough, so I like to grate the soft part of the stalks using a microplane zester. I find this to be a lot easier than mincing and a better way of extracting flavor.
I’m not going to lie to you, the recipe does take a little bit of work. Here’s how I handle it:
I start by quick-pickling the veggies. I use the same method as I did in this Vegan Meatball Bahn Mi Recipe. If I remember, I like to do this a day before. But since I never remember and I bet you won’t either, please know that they will be delicious all the same.
After the pickles I make the sauce, which takes about 5 minutes but benefits from a resting period.
Next, I take care of the collard greens so they are all ready to go (de-stemming and steaming).
I caramelize the tofu last so it’s still warm and sticky when I make the collard wraps. Here’s a secret: sometimes I skip this part and just toss some sliced tofu with soy sauce and sesame seeds.
Finally, wrap them up! I make one wrap with each leaf, then slice them in half to expose the inner beauty.
Ready to get wrapping?
Vegan Banh Mi Collard Wraps Recipe
For the Pickled Vegetables
- 1 cup carrot matchsticks
- 1 cup daikon radish matchsticks
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
For the Dipping Sauce
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh lemongrass
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce - use tamari for gf
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 bird’s eye chili - sliced
For the wraps
- 5 large collard green leaves
- 14 ounces firm tofu - sliced into rectangular pieces
- 1 tablespoon peanut or grapeseed oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce - use tamari for gf
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro
- Fresh mint leaves - optional
- Juice of half a lime
- Place the carrot and radish matchsticks in a large lidded glass jar or dish along with the rice vinegar, sugar, kosher salt, and one cup of very hot water. Seal and shake until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to pickle.*
- Combine the sauce ingredients along with one tablespoon of water in a medium bowl. Whisk until well-combined; set aside.
- Cut the protruding stems off of the collard leaves to form a (roughly) circular shape. Hold a sharp knife parallel to the bottom side of the leaf and slice off as much of the remaining tough stem as you can. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add one tablespoon of water along with the prepared leaves. Cover and steam for 1 to 2 minutes; until bright green and pliable. Do not over steam or they will become fragile and tear. Set the steamed greens aside to cool.
- Wipe the water out of the pan. Add one tablespoon of peanut or grapeseed oil and heat over medium-high. Once the oil is shimmering, add the sliced tofu and fry, turning occasionally, until browned (about 4 to 5 minutes).
- Meanwhile, whisk the soy sauce, sesame oil, and brown sugar together in a small dish. Once the tofu has browned, pour the sauce into the pan and toss with the tofu. Continue to cook until the sauce thickens, coats, and caramelizes the tofu; about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Build the wraps: lay one collard leaf face-down on a cutting board. Fill with roughly one fifth of the tofu, pickled vegetables, cilantro and mint (if using). Roll up the collard, tucking in the sides as you go, to form a burrito-like wrap. Slice down the middle, through the middle rib, to cut in half. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve with prepared dipping sauce.