Definitely one of the highlights of the Vegan Beer Fest, at least for me, was the Tofu Banh Mi from Mandoline Grill. I had never had this sandwich before, and was completely blown away by how delicious it was! So much so, in fact, that I’ve basically thought about it non-stop every day since then. I finally broke down and made one myself and, to my shock and delight, it was pretty fantastic!
Of course, it was not really like the sandwich from Mandoline Grill, but it was definitely inspired by, borrowing heavily from the basic idea of extremely flavorful and blackened tofu with a variety of fresh and pickled vegetables all piled on a roll. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what was on the original Banh Mi, whether it was pickled daikon or cabbage, and whether or not there was actually veganaise on it. I don’t really like that stuff, so I would never ever put it on something that I am making, you see.
I started with extra firm sprouted tofu. After slicing into strips, I carefully pressed as much liquid from the tofu as I could. I had never done this before, and tofu is pretty fragile, but it wasn’t a terribly difficult task and made a huge difference in the final result. I doubt that was the only reason that this ended up being, most definitely, the best tofu I have ever made, but the fact that the tofu did such a nice job of crisping once it made it to the pan can be credited to the squeezing. I think.
Anyway, after the tofu was much drier than it had been initially, I got it wet all over again! This time, though, it was in the name of marinating, and it worked brilliantly. After putting the tofu in a dish, I covered it with soy sauce and rice vinegar, plus five cloves of pressed garlic and some salt and pepper. Then, I added some Pickapeppa sauce and Frank’s Red Hot, for good measure. Covered, I let it rest in the fridge while I went to work on pickling.
I completely filled a small dish with equal parts shredded green cabbage and carrots, and then put as much pickling liquid (water, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper) as the dish could hold, and then I covered it and put it in the fridge. Easy.
About an hour or so later, I heated some coconut oil in a skillet over medium low heat, and fried the dickens out of the marinated tofu until it was nice and seared. After, I sliced a french roll in half, slathered it with stone ground mustard, added a layer of fresh butter lettuce, then piled several thick slices of tofu on the lettuce, heaped the cabbage and carrots on top of that, and dotted it all with a few slices of raw jalapeños. Spicy, crunchy, and really really good, this definitely qualified as a homemade version Mandoline Grill’s masterpiece. There are a few things that I will do differently next time (oh yes, there will be a next time….) including pickling the jalapeños separately, using a less spongy bread, adding bean sprouts to the pickled mixture, and possibly onions, just because I love onions.
In other news, Happy July! July is my favorite month, and not just because it’s my birthday month. Nope, it’s for a million other reasons including the fact that my baby boy will be eight years old eight days from now! And that everywhere in Los Angeles it is summer time, and that fireworks are going off outside my window as I type this, and really because even the word July is pretty. So yes, I’m a happy girl today. It’s July, and my belly is full. All the windows are open, my babies are sleeping in the room next door, me and the Mister are working together, and even the kitties are behaving themselves.
This is pretty much perfection, and it’s all happening right now. I’m off to enjoy it, but not before saying that my recent extended absence from this space is not a reflection in any way of my love for this space. Quite the opposite, really. In the coming weeks, I plan to introduce a few small changes, and a few rather large ones, to this here blog of mine. And to be honest, I couldn’t be more excited! Patience is appreciated through the process of course, and I’ll be back to posting with regularity soon.
Thank you for being a part of this journey, for reading, for commenting, and for sharing the love….