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Baked Tofu Banh Mi

Even though banh mi are super cheap to buy, they're even cheaper to make at home and possibly more delicious. This version features super simple and flavorful 2-ingredient baked tofu, quick pickled vegetables, cucumber, peppers and cilantro atop toasted pretzel rolls smeared with miso-cilantro butter. Make a double batch and eat these for days!
Servings 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • For the tofu:
  • 1 16- oz block firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root

  • For the pickled vegetables:
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3-4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups shredded or julienned carrot about 3 medium carrots
  • 1 ½ cups shredded or julienned daikon**

  • For the miso cilantro butter*:
  • 1 tablespoon butter or vegan butter softened at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon white miso paste
  • 1 packed tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

  • 4 pretzel rolls or any type of crusty baguette
  • cucumber sliced into thin wedges
  • green bell pepper or 1 jalapeno sliced
  • additional cilantro for garnish
  • fish sauce optional
  • lentil pate optional

Instructions

  • {Set the tablespoon of butter out to soften while you make the rest of the sandwich components.}
  • Drain the tofu. Press the tofu for at least 20 minutes (this is a great explanation of how to press tofu).
  • Meanwhile, stir the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, add shredded carrot and daikon and let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to a few weeks, refrigerated.
  • Cut your pressed tofu into about 24 slices (I cut my block in thirds across the width so I had three flat sheets of tofu, then cut each sheet into sixths for 24 pieces). Toss in a bowl with soy sauce and grated ginger and let marinate for at least 15 minutes.
  • To bake the tofu, spread the tofu pieces on a lightly greased baking sheet (DO NOT FORGET THE GREASING) for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F, flipping halfway through.
  • To pan-fry the tofu, heat a little sesame oil in a pan over medium heat. Once hot, spread the tofu pieces out in an even layer (avoid over-crowding the pan--fry in 2 batches if you must) and fry for a few minutes on each side, or until browned and crusty.
  • Make the miso butter by stirring together the softened butter, miso and cilantro.
  • To assemble the sandwiches, toast your rolls. Spread with miso butter, 6 squares of tofu, pickled vegetables, cucumber, bell pepper and cilantro. Drizzle with fish sauce if desired. EAT!

Notes

*For a vegan option, you could also omit the miso butter in favor of a thin spread of miso (it's quite salty) on your bread. Also, make sure your bread is vegan, because these pretzel rolls aren't.
**This was my first time cooking with daikon and I found it in the organic section of Whole Foods next to the carrots. Daikon is a white root vegetable that looks like a very thick, anemic (read: white) carrot. Peel the outsides just like a carrot before shredding.
With inspiration from here, here and here.

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