winter picnic—veg banh mi

We’re in the middle of a snow storm in and all I can say is Damn, I’m glad we have pickles and leftover banh mi in the house.

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The impulse to pickle came last week. I wanted something bright and pungent.

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I made one batch of pickled red onions with cilantro and another batch of pickled carrots with ginger last week with a single thought in mind, sweet spicy sour.

A meatless twist on the Vietnamese classic sandwich, banh mi, often served with meat, pate, pickled vegetables, and a spicy chile sauce.

I added a sweet soy-glazed tofu, plenty of homemade pickles along with a cilantro sriracha mayonnaise that I could paint the kitchen with, all putty green spice.

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I’m off to make another round of these sandwiches and trudge into storm for a spicy pale ale, Hello there, neighbor…

Okay, this recipe takes a bit more prep time than slathering prepared mayo and tofu on a baguette; it’s worth every step though. To save a step, pickle the red onions and carrots the night before or even in the morning before work. You’ll get one step out of the way and the pickles taste even better the next day. They each need to sit about an hour so you’ll have plenty of time to rock out to your favorite wintery playlist while you blend the mayo and prep the tofu marinade. These sweet, spicy, sour tofu veg sandwiches make for a lovely picnic in the middle of a snow storm, if you happen to be in New England on such a day.

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Sweet Soy-Glazed Tofu and Pickled Vegetable Banh Mi with Cilantro Sriracha Mayo

Makes 4 sandwiches

For the Pickled Red Onions with Cilantro:

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 medium red onion (about 1 cup), sliced thin into half-moons
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Combine the vinegar, water, agave nectar, and salt in a small glass or ceramic bowl. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add the onions and cilantro leaves and toss to combine. Let sit for one hour (or make them the night before for even better flavor). Store in a glass jar covered with a lid in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

For the Pickled Carrots with Ginger:

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 medium carrots (about 1 cup), peeled and shredded
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and shredded

Combine the vinegar, water, agave nectar, and salt in a small glass or ceramic bowl. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add the shredded carrots and ginger and toss to combine. Let sit for one hour (or make them the night before for even better flavor). Store in a glass jar covered with a lid in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

For the cilantro siracha mayo:
makes about 1 cup

6-ounces (1/2 package) silken tofu, drained
1 tablespoons rice vinegar
3/4 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon sriracha (use more or less to taste)

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Store the mayo in a glass container with a lid, cover, and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

For the sweet soy-glazed tofu:

1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into ½-inch slices
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey
1 teaspoon lemon or lime zest

Place the prepared tofu in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a small saucepan, whisk the soy sauce, oil, vinegar, and agave nectar together then bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the lime zest. Pour the hot marinade over the tofu. Turn over to coat the tofu with the marinade.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the tofu for 30 minutes, turning the tofu over halfway through. Remove from the oven to cool.

To assemble the sandwiches:

1 baguette (about 20-inches)
4 tablespoons cilantro sriracha mayo
1/2 English cucumber, cut lengthwise into slices
a few spoonfuls of pickled red onions with cilantro
a few spoonfuls of pickled carrots with ginger
fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Split and cut each baguette into 4 lengths. Spread the mayonnaise on the bread and top with a layer of the cucumber slices, 3 or 4 tofu slices, red onions, and carrots. Spread the top half of the bread with more mayo, if that’s your style, then close the sandwiches and serve immediately.

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Comments

  1. Mouthwatering! Those Bahn Mi look amazing.

    cheers,

    Rosa

  2. oh boy – those look absolutely delicious!

  3. I work for and with Vietnamese people, and they give me the best treats – banh mi is one of my favorites, and this vegetarian version looks gorgeous.

  4. This sounds really tasty! I love vietnamese food :)

  5. I think you read my mind. I’ve been dreaming of veggie banh mi sandwiches lately. Perfect, delicious timing. These look way too good.

  6. Mmmm… these sound delightful and the photos are stunning. Can I ask what you used to get that rich black backdrop?

  7. Oh wow, these look absolutely amazing! Never made banh mi but really want to try them now…yum yum yum :-)

  8. As you know I live in Boston so I should be enjoying these sandwiches more often! I love all the pics, especially the colors in the first one, and the second…oh all of them! Those pickled onions and carrots sure would be nice right now too.

  9. We have a new banh mi shop down the street from us and where I am sooo excited about it, nothing they serve looks nearly as beautiful as this! We are all lucky you had pickles on hand to create such a stunning sandwich.

  10. I love this post! I first had banh mi in the Berkshires, at a catered fundraiser. It was amazing of course- shortly afterward I started seeing them everywhere. Gorgeous photos and thanks for the recipe!
    jac

  11. YUM! This looks so delicious. This is one of my fav sandwiches. Thanks for the recipe!

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