For most of our adult-ish lives, Hannah and I have been mistaken for twins. We don't really see that strong of a resemblance but a lot of people do. There was even a time in high school that I broke up with Hannah's boyfriend for her. She was tucked in the stairway, and I did the dirty work posing as her, him being none the wiser.
So maybe we shouldn't be too surprised that the similarities don't end with our looks. Our minds travel the same path when thinking of new recipes, or developing a flavor profile.
The other day, we ate lunch out at a restaurant we'd never been to. Both of us simultaneously decided to order the Banh Mi sandwich with tofu. (we did notice all the other patrons in the restaurant were eating mac n cheese- and should've taken the hint) The sandwich sounded amazing.
Crispy baked tofu that had been marinated in spicy chili sauce. Pickled vegetables. Sriracha mayo.
The server promised us it was a favorite- spicy, crunchy, pickle-y goodness. Aaaaand then we tasted it... It.was.terrible! Soggy, sweet tofu, a roll big enough for two sandwiches, hardly any barely-pickled vegetables. Did I say it was terrible? Terrible. The disappointment was real... but!
Our twin-like thinking appeared again, and we knew we could make our own Banh Mi. The right way.
It took way too many days for us to find the time to do it (like maybe 5), but ohmygoodness. The results were worth the wait.
We ate our Banh Mi's for lunch, dinner, and lunch the next day.
The first step was finding just the right bread. We chose a bake at home french loaf from Avenue Bread in Bellingham. Soft on the inside, just the right amount of crunch on the outside, and it bakes in only 10 minutes!
Next step was getting those veggies pickling. Hannah is the resident queen of pickles, and she used a random assortment of root vegetables and carrots in a rice wine vinegar brine. We let them sit overnight, but if you really can't wait that long, just get things pickling as soon as possible for maximum flavor.
Our tofu was so simple- sliced thin, then marinated in a tamari-ginger-lime bath while we assembled the rest of the ingredients. Cucumber, jalapenos, cilantro, and our own Sriracha mayo.
I'm pretty sad right now that we ate all our Banh Mi. Telling you about them makes me need another sandwich for my lunch at work tomorrow (the thought of hospital cafeteria food... shudder).
Once all your ingredients are pickled/prepped/baked, the fun begins. You can choose to pile as much as you can fit onto your french bread- we went heavy on the pickled veggies, and maybe just one jalapeno too many on the first round.
Repeat attempts were just about perfect.
I like mine with lots of cucumbers and the spicy Sriracha mayo. Hannah the health conscious scoops the middle out of her bread.
You decide how you like yours, and let us know!
Oh these sandwiches are good.
*On an side note...A Banh Mi (according to Oxford dictionary) is a Vietnamese style sandwich made with a rice and wheat flour baguette and then piled with meat, pickled vegetables and peppers.
Banh Mi with Tamari Ginger Tofu - serves 6
Pickled carrots and turnips
2 medium carrots and 2 turnips, julienned or grated
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 package extra firm tofu
3 medium sized French bread loaves (about 12")
1. Combine both vinegars and water in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, add sugar and salt. Remove from heat and pour over the carrots and turnips. Place in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours or overnight. The pickled flavor will intensity the longer it sits.
2. Slice tofu into 1/4 inch slices and place on a cookie sheet. Top tofu with a couple layers of paper towels and then place another cookie sheet on top. Press cookie sheet down onto tofu with a few canned goods. Leave the tofu for 5-10 minutes and prepare the marinade while waiting.
3. Place the tofu into a large ziptop bag. Add marinade and leave sit for 20-30 minutes. The flavor will intensify the longer it sits. While tofu is marinating, preheat oven to 425 degrees.
4. Remove tofu from marinade and place onto a baking sheet. Place into the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Flip tofu halfway through baking time.
5. While the tofu is baking, combine the mayo and siracha in a small bowl.
6. Halve the French bread and add mayo to each side. Place cilantro, jalapeno, cucumber and pickled veggies onto the rolls and then top with the tofu. Place the top onto each Banh Mi, slice in half and sit down to enjoy the best darn sandwich you've had in a long time.
*Thank you to Wild Hare Organic Farm for many of the local & seasonal produce we are able to use in our recipes.