Friday, September 7, 2012

Lemongrass Tofu Banh Mi Sandwich

Banh mi's are Vietnamese sandwiches inspired by French cuisine. Chicago has several places one can get these tasty meals: Ba Le, Bon Bon Sandwiches, and Nhu Lan. All three restaurants offer vegan banh mi's. I decided to try to create one myself. It turned out really yummy! I even had leftover marinated tofu to put in a salad the next day. 

Lemongrass Tofu Banh Mi Sandwich

Instagram Photo (User: veganmiss)
* Prep Time: 1-2 hours
* Cook Time: 10 minutes
* Ingredients (for lemongrass tofu):
Instagram Photo (User: veganmiss)
  • 1/2 package (10 oz.) firm tofu, pressed, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk fresh lemongrass
  • 2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste 
* Ingredients (for banh mi):
  • 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1/2 cup daikon radish, shredded
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar*
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 demi French baguette
  • lettuce leaves, torn
  • cucumber, sliced
  • cilantro sprigs
  • jalapeno, sliced (optional)
  • 1 green onion stalk, sliced
  • vegan mayonnaise*
  • siracha (optional)
  • garlic chili sauce
  • soy sauce
  • lemon wedge (optional)

* Recipe (for lemongrass tofu):
  1. Cut the lemongrass stalk and use the tender parts (not the top). Smash as best you can to get bitty pieces. Using a mortar and pestle may help.
  2. Add the lemongrass, garlic, soy sauce, oils, salt, and pepper to a large freezer bag. Slice the tofu 1/4" to 1/2" thick and add to the bag.
  3. Seal the bag and toss the tofu with the marinade. Make sure it is completely covered. Place in the fridge for at least one hour, the longer the better.
* Recipe (for banh mi):
  1. Combine the carrots, daikon, rice vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Mix well. Let sit in the fridge while the tofu is marinating. This will be a pickled carrot daikon mix.
  2. When tofu has been marinated long enough, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu to the skillet and cook each side until brown, about 10 minutes. Do not add the lemongrass and garlic bits to the tofu in the pan. Leave in the marinade bag. Do not add oil to the pan as the tofu will be coated in oil already.
  3. While the tofu is cooking, cut a demi French baguette in half. Cut the half in half horizontally. Toast the bread on both the inside and outside.
  4. On the bottom piece of bread, lay a piece of lettuce, cucumber sliced, cilantro sprigs, sliced green onions, pickled carrot and daikon mix, and jalapenos (if using). On the top piece of bread, spread some vegan mayonnaise and sprinkle some garlic chili paste and soy sauce (and siracha if desired).
  5. Place several pieces of tofu on top of the vegetables. Place the top piece of bread over the bottom and serve with lemon wedge if desired. Repeat the sandwich building process to the other half of the baguette for a second sandwich.
* Note: Make sure your sugar is vegan! I used Earth Balance vegan mayonnaise. I accidentally did the opposite of how I suggest to build this sandwich in the pictures (meaning I put the mayonnaise on the bottom).

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