For years the French colonized Vietnam. While one can argue both for or against colonization, there is one thing that there is no argument over: the French introduced the baguette to the Vietnamese and that was undeniably a good thing. Enterprising and adventurous cooks that the Vietnamese are, they created the Banh Mi. Definitely a high point in the sandwich’s history.
When we visited Vietnam a couple of years back, we found Banh Mi everywhere but being the carnivores that the Vietnamese are, there was not a vegetarian version to be had. And so it remained till the the last couple of weeks. I had an excellent Tofu Banh Mi in Chicago week before last and a not-so-excellent-but-still-serviceable veggie Banh Mi in, of all places, West Glacier in Montana last week. So I came back home and looked here and here and this is what I found.
For a good Banh Mi you need
1. A not-too-crusty baguette
3. Daikon/Carrot pickle
4. Some herbs
5. Nicely flavored/spiced protein
So here is what I made. Turned out pretty well. This is not a purist’s Banh Mi, this is just the foodydoody Banh Mi. Very very easy to make and something you can put together when you don’t have much time. Enjoy.
INGREDIENTS (Enough for four decent sized sandwiches)
1 French baguette (not too crusty)
11 oz hard Tofu
Some shredded carrot
Some sliced cucumber
Some fresh sliced jalapenos
Reduced fat mayo
Vietnamese style pickle (I used a mustard greens and carrots pickle I found at the Chinese store)
Some cilantro leaves
Some sweet basil leaves
1. Slice the tofu into thin slices and then put it in a ziploc bag with some garlic, soy sauce, hot sauce, vinegar, black pepper and oil. I didn’t measure the exact portions but more or less winged it. You want the tofu to be very well seasoned so play around with proportions to your liking. You can do 1 tsp garlic, 1 tsp hot sauce, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice vinegar and about 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Add a tbsp of cooking oil.
2. Put the ziploc bag with the tofu aside for an hour.
3. On high heat in a saucepan sear the tofu. You don’t need to add any more oil since there is oil in the marinade.
4. To assemble the sandwich, cut about a six inch length from the baguette. Slice it in half and scoop the inside out with your fingers. You can keep the entrails for breadcrumbs.
5. Generously smear mayo on both sides.
6. Stuff it with tofu, carrots, sliced cucumbers and some cilantro, basil and jalapenos. You can stuff as much or as little as you like.
7. Enjoy the sandwich.
NOTE: If you like, you can even toast the bread before you assemble the sandwich. If you are using a meat protein, you should be able to easy substitute the tofu for some shredded pork, grilled chicken or salami (or anything else that takes your fancy).