Most baguettes I see in stores are hard as a rock, so I rarely buy them. However, when I was at my local Asian market the other day and saw fresh baguettes being put out on display, I couldn’t resist walking over and taking a look. They were still warm and soft, and gave a little crackle when I lightly squeezed it. These baguettes were magic. I had to do something with one of them. Like make a Banh Mi with it.
This Banh Mi is loaded with seared marinated tofu, piled high with crisp mandolined and lightly pickled vegetables, then finished with a slather of sambal vegan mayo. If you can find that soft, warm and crackly baguette where you live, this is a perfect way to use and appreciate that magical, gluteney + airy goodness!
Like all sandwiches, you can fill it with whatever you want, but a Banh Mi works best when you have the following components:
- a soft, crackly baguette
- lightly pickled vegetables. I used carrots, celery and cucumbers here, but you can use daikon, cabbage, etc.
- tofu or something “meaty” like mushrooms, using this method, or a prepared meat analogue, like Gardein porkless bites. I used a marinade with Fysh sauce, mirin, lime and black pepper, but anything a little salty and citrusy will work. A good sear is key, so start with a screaming hot cast iron pan, then add a little oil before adding in the tofu to get a delicious sear.
- a spicy vegan mayo, kicked up with sambal or sriracha
- super fresh garnish, like jalapeños or Thai chilis, cilantro and/or mint
I used my towel-pressed tofu method to dry out the tofu so it would absorb the salty, lime-kissed and garlicky marinade before being seared, so I highly recommend it for this recipe and any other tofu that you’re going to marinate!
TOFU BANH MI
Yield 4 sandwiches
FOR THE TOFU
- 14 ounces package firm tofu, sliced into 8 pieces
- 1/2 cup mirin
- 2 TB Fysh sauce (you can also sub with regular soy sauce)
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
FOR THE VEGETABLES
- 2 medium carrots, sliced into thin ribbons
- 3 stalks celery, sliced thin with a mandolin
- 2 small cucumbers, sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup rice vinegar
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- fresh baquette, sliced into 4 pieces and split
- 1/2 cup vegan mayo (I used Fabanaise), mixed with 1-2 TB sambal
- 1 small jalepeno, sliced thinly
- 1 -2 scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
- handful of fresh cilantro
- lime wedges (optional)
TO MAKE THE TOFU
- To make the tofu, first press it well - see note above.
- Combine the rest of the tofu ingredients in a large glass pyrex. Place the tofu into liquid and allow it to marinade for a few hours, flipping once during that time to ensure it's evenly marinated.
TO MAKE THE VEGETABLES
- Place the carrots, celery and cucumbers into a large bowl. Combine the rest of the vegetable ingredients together, then pour it over the vegetables, allow it to marinate for about half an hour. Drain and set the vegetables aside.
- When you are ready to serve the sandwiches, heat a large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add a little oil to the pan and brown the tofu on both sides. When done, place back into the marinade and allow the cool.
- Smear the sambal-mayo on four pieces of a sliced baguette. Stuff with the tofu, pickled vegetables, jalepeno, scallions and cilantro. Serve immediately with lime wedges, if desired.