Chef Amber Bailey

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Vegan Coconut Crusted Sweet Potato Bahn Mi with Chili Miso Mayonnaise

I can't believe that it is March already! It seems crazy to me that 2015 is already in full effect and charging through it's third month. I am so excited for what March has to bring.. one of those lovely things being SPRING and slightly warmer weather (however I say this as it's totally snowing outside). And of course, once it's Spring, it will mean that I officially SURVIVED my first Winter! I wasn't really sure how it was going to go, I honestly had this terrible picture of being in some type of arctic tundra where the entire city was just underneath mountains of snow....but luckily for me it wasn't as bad as my mind had imagined (lets be real, I'm in NYC not Boston).

Since it has been so cold these past few months, it has really given me time to come up with new recipes and to cook new things that I normally would just get from a restaurant (just because it is more convenient that way). I have realized the fact that if you don't have a ton of good food places in your immediate area here in the city, you are forced to go outside of your comfort zone and venture out to other parts of the city... or you are forced to just cook at home. Luckily for me, I love to cook, so the second option is what I usually end up doing. 

When I lived in Orlando, I lived next to this lovely Vietnamese restaurant called Pho 88. It was my absolute favorite place to go get a steaming bowl of Pho noodle soup. They also had really yummy Bahn mi sandwiches that were so incredibly cheap, it almost made you scared to eat them (until you took your first bite, then you realized that you didn't care how they made it.. you just wanted to finish it as quickly as possible). Their sandwiches were so popular, the owners decided to open just a Bahn mi sandwich shop right down the street (also walking distance from my house). This shop, Yum-mi sandwiches (such a clever little name in my opinion), had 15-20 different types of Bahn mi sandwiches, all super cheap, and very fresh. My favorite sandwiches were always the vegetarian ones, with lemongrass tofu or sometimes I just got extra vegetables. I always knew that no matter what my Vietnamese craving was, it would be satisfied. 

Since moving here (the city that feels like it has millions of places to eat)... I have yet to find the perfect Bahn mi sandwich shop (however Num Pang has a pretty killer version). There is just so many options, I just don't have time to try them all.. and I want a ultra-fabulous-super-delicious bahn mi sandwich basically on my first try. So... while I am still looking for that can't-stop-to-breath -while-I-am-eating sandwich shop, I had to just come up with something on my own that I knew that would satisfy my craving.

What I came up with? I wanted to do something vegetarian and something with coconut. Why with coconut? Well... a few months ago I purchased (in bulk) 6 bags of unsweetened flaked coconut... I still have 5 1/2 bags. Therefore, what would be better than coconut crusted roasted sweet potato slices on a crusty baguette with crunchy pickled carrots and daikon, fresh jalapenos & cucmber, vibrant cilantro, and a white miso scented spicy mayonnaise? Absolutely nothing.. was my answer, so I preheated my oven and started prepping away. Bahn mi sandwiches are pretty easy, you really just need to quick pickle the carrot and daikon, then cook whatever your base of the sandwich is going to be, then assemble.  If you didn't want to have a vegetarian sandwich, you could always use some type of protein (like chicken or tiger shrimp), and maybe one day I will play around with a recipe like that, but today, I am using the simple sweet potato. When I realized that I was going to do sweet potato, I started looking through the internet to see if anyone else had done something similar, and to my good fortune I found a lovely version from a blog called Earthy Feast where Grace makes whole foods look to beautiful in her food photography pictures. Once I saw her sandwich, I knew that I was going to make something that was similar, but had my own twist on  it! 

Recipe - adapted from Earthy Feast Smokey Sweet Potato Bahn mi

Ingredients & What to do:

Pickled carrots and daikon

  • 4 carrots, cut into matchsticks (you could also buy pre-cut matchstick carrots at the store. I didn't because I wanted my carrots and daikon to be similar in size once cut)
  • 2 daikon, cut into matchsticks
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp agave
  1. Put the matchstick carrots and daikon in medium size bowl, set aside
  2. Combine the water, vinegar, salt and agave in small saucepan and heat until boiling
  3. Once boiling, remove from heat, pour over the carrot and daikon mixture
  4. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then let chill in refrigerator until ready to assemble sandwich (best if chills for at least 30 minutes)

Coconut crusted sweet potato

  • 2 medium-large sweet potatoes, skin on, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil - I used room temperature, un-melted coconut oil, I realized it acts almost like a paste when it is not melted, and it worked perfectly to keep the coconut flakes to stick to the sweet potato. *I used to live in FL, where the coconut oil was always melted NO matter what, it's OK if yours is melted, I just wouldn't go the extra step to melt it if you didn't have to!
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, pulsed a few times in the food processor, but still left very coarse
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 tsp smoked paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 400 and line two medium size baking sheets with parchment paper
  2. Place sweet potato slices in medium sized bowl, add the coconut oil to the bowl, and massage onto each piece of potato.
  3. Once the sweet potato is covered with the coconut oil, add the coconut flakes, sea salt, black pepper and 1 tsp of the paprika to the bowl, toss to coat until all pieces have an equal amount on them.
  4. Line the slices of sweet potato equally spaced out on the parchment lined baking sheets
  5. Sprinkle with the remaining paprika
  6. Bake 12-15 minutes until sweet potato is cooked through, but not mushy (I checked mine at about 10 minutes, and then again at 15. They will continue to cook slightly once removed from the oven, so just try to be careful to not overcook the slices)
  7. Let cool for 3 minutes before sandwich assembly

Spicy Miso Mayonnaise

  • 3 Tbsp Mayonnaise (I used Veganaise)
  • 1 Tbsp white miso
  • 1 tsp Tamari
  • 1 tsp sambol oelek (raw chili paste)
  1. Add all ingredients in small bowl, mix until completely combined and then refrigerate for 30 minutes so that the flavor can really settle.

Other ingredients for sandwich

  • 4 medium size baguettes (I got mine from Whole Foods, they are made fresh daily and are just super cute)
  • Fresh cilantro sprigs, divided into 4 portions
  • 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapenos, thinly sliced
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges

Almost time to eat!

Putting it all together:

  • Toast the baguette for 2 minutes in the already heated oven
  • Slice down the middle and remove half of the inside of the baguette (the guts) - this will make room for all those yummy ingredients about to go in your sandwich!
  • Spread chili miso mayonnaise on both sides of the inside of the baguette
  • Layer in order: coconut sweet potato slices, carrot & daikon, cilantro, cucumber slices, jalapeno slices (however many you like for your spiciness liking.. my jalapeno's were so incredibly hot that I only used about half a jalapeno per sandwich)
  • Fold over and press down slightly so the ingredients really incorporate together, cut in half and serve with lime wedges
  • Enjoy warm, or you can enjoy room temperature or even cold (I did all three ways and really thought they were all fantastic)


Please try this sandwich! If the pictures I have included below don't entice you... just trust me.. it was worth the tiny bit of effort!

Happy eating,



Before it was the sandwich... it was just fresh, colorful ingredients


The pickled carrots and daikon are my favorite part about bahn mi.. it just screams fresh


It's almost as if the coconut snowed all over the sweet potato. this was before the sweet potato went into the oven.


beautiful and golden, straight from the oven


are you hungry yet?


i went a bit crazy with the sandwich pics, you can stop anytime.. 


or can you?


..almost done i promise


this was my favorite picture from today


until i took this one...


...and i'm done! hope you enjoyed!