16 Sep Vegan Banh Mi Sandwiches
Vegan Banh Mi Sandwiches
My love affair with Banh Mi sandwiches began a couple years ago when the Nom Nom food truck appeared on the streets of LA. I had never tasted this traditional Vietnamese sandwich (Banh Mi actually refers to the baguette, but has become synonymous with the sandwiches made with the bread), a layered masterpiece of meat or tofu, cilantro, jalapeno, mayo and pickled carrots and daikon. Their meaty hot tofu is something I have never been able to replicate, so I chased down the truck once a week for a year and treated myself to the perfect Banh Mi. Every time I have tried one other than Nom Nom, I have been disappointed by the creation. Mostly, they fell short in the bread. It should be light and chewy on the inside and crusty on the outside, a perfect extremely fresh French Baguette. That is until I visited the Brooklyn Flea market while on vacation in New York last weekend. The star of the Banh Mi was their Faux Gras, an addicting lentil and walnut pate that was so perfect they didn’t even need to add tofu. The bread was perfectly light and crispy, the vegetables pickled to perfection, and the perfect amount of spice from the jalapenos (my overuse of the word perfect is not hyperbole). Since I can’t buy their Faux Gras in Los Angeles, I set out to replicate the spread from memory. Although theirs is hard to match (and if you live out east you should buy them out of whatever store you find it in) you can come close with this version. My Banh Mi recipe adds back in the tofu I love so much from Nom Nom (but in a decidedly un-Nom Nom way since I have never been able to figure out their recipe) of thinly sliced smoked baked tofu on a mandolin, replicating smoked deli-sliced meat. The recipe requires a bit of work in making the pate and pickling the vegetables, but I promise it is well worth the effort.
- 1 pound of your favorite meat-free protein (seitan, tempeh, smoked tofu, etc- see below for my recommendations)
- 1 Medium Cucumber (not hothouse), thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 Jalapeño, thinly sliced
- 3 Tablespoons of Fresh Cilantro Leaves
- 3 Teaspoons Mayonnaise (I use Vegenaise)
- 1 Very Fresh French Baguette
- 6 Tablespoons of Vegan Foie Gras
- Quick Pickled Daikon and Carrots
- 1 Carrot, julienned
- 1 Daikon Radish, julienned
- 4 cups water
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons white vinegar
- Maggi Jugo Sauce
Make your quick pickled vegetables (Do Chua)
- In a small saucepan simmer sugar, salt, vinegar, and water until sugar and salt are dissolved, about 1 minute.
- Pour over carrots and daikon and put in the fridge. They are best if you make at least a couple days in advance to fully develop the flavor, but if you’re in a hurry an hour will do.
Assemble your Sandwiches
- Place baguette in the oven to crisp up on 350 for about 3 minutes. Remove and slice horizontally in half (splitting into top and bottom, and leaving together then slice into 3 sections, cutting on a bias.
- Spread mayo on the bottom, top with 2 cucumber slices, then your protein, then cilantro. Spread the other side with 2 tablespoons of spread and jalapeños if desired. Add a drizzle of Maggi (worth the hunt!) and Sriracha for extra heat. Press sandwich together and serve!
- Maggi Jugo seasoning can be found in latin markets, local supermarket chains, and sometimes even the 99 cent store.
- Local readers: I LOVE Dave's Gourmet Korean Tempha, it is insanely delicious, sold at the Venice farmers market and others around LA. Nationwide: I love Wildwood's sprouted szechuan smoked tofu, amazing texture and flavor.
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