It’s been a while since I posted an explicit recipe post, but as I was going over things this weekend, for Tova & Wild, I realized the one thing that I miss most about eating animals was a good old-fashioned Bahn Mi.
When I decided to go vegetarian, it wasn’t a decision that just came about one day, but was in fact, a culmination of years of flirting with the idea. I committed for about 8 years and then dropped it as soon as I went to college because it wasn’t convenient. When school ended, the following years consisted of me attempting and failing to convert back, until I read a book called Eating Animals by Jonathon Safran Foer, to which, I subsequentially read Sapiens, Built To Last, and various Netflix documentaries about animal agriculture and sustainability—in those moments I literally became Elizabeth Gilbert crying and eating my way through pasta and watching cows eat happily through fields in California. It almost convinced me to go full on vegan, but after several attempts of quitting cheese, I finally just accepted that it would take some time, further education, and a level of dedication that I wasn’t quite capable of channeling on my own, at this time.
Initially, I found that my recipe posts were beginning with funny little quips and anecdotes to food troubles that I’ve had, but when I started dissecting it, I realized that the food that I eat and the way I eat was a culmination of so many factors. Not only was it based out of a desire to be more sustainable, but consisted of religious purposes, and even emotional responses from the torture that is induced upon animals. You see, for a while, I would take mini-vacations through Northern California and along the way we would happen upon fields of cows that were open and wandering around, seemingly happy until we came across one in the Central Valley that wasn’t as beautiful and picturesque as the ones I had seen previously. During these trips I found myself literally, in every sense of the word, loving the cows I was seeing. I would get insanely happy every single time I saw a field of them, and even at one point, compared them to dogs, just larger and more unaware of their size than their aforementioned counterparts. This comparison kept gnawing at me until I finally adopted the idea to stop eating animals altogether over a burger to which I decided would be my last.
Which brings me to the Bahn Mi.
More than often a Bahn Mi is made with pork tenderloin that is thinly sliced and seasoned with a marinade consisting of soy sauce, miso paste, and fish sauce. However, because I don’t really care for pork (see religious reasons), I would often substitute It for beef, however, now that I am a vegetarian, I found myself craving the sandwich of all sandwiches and decided to make a vegetarian option inspired by French, Latin, and Vietnamese influences. Give it a try, leave a comment below if you like it, and throw in a sprinkling of tips for some recipes you would like to see created. I’ve been considering putting these into a video format so I’m curious to see if anyone would like to see that. Okay, okay, without further adieu, Chipotle Shiitake Tofu Bahn Mi.
INGREDIENTS & METHOD
Yield: 4 Sandwiches
1 large carrot, julienne
1 large daikon radish, julienne (if your grocer doesn’t have daikon, standard radish will do)
1 cucumber, julienne
1 serrano pepper, julienne
2 garlic cloves, julienne
1 Tbsp coconut sugar
1 Tbsp kosher salt
Once everything is sliced thinly, combine ingredients in a large pickling jar and fill half of the jar with white wine vinegar, and the other half with water. Depending on how spicy you want your pickled veggies to be, seed the pepper accordingly. Set in fridge and allow pickling process to begin.
1 cup Just Mayo, veganaise
2 Tbsp chives, julienne
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp chipotle powder
1 lime, zested, and juiced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Combine the vegan mayo, chives, garlic, chipotle powder, and half of the juice of a lime together. Salt and pepper to taste. If the consistency is still too thick, add the other half of the juice of lime depending on preferred aioli consistency.
Shiitake Tofu Bahn Mi
1 package of extra firm tofu, drained, dried, and sliced into small 1/2 inch cubes
3 large shiitake mushrooms, julienne (if mushrooms are hella expensive, you can also use more portobello mushrooms or cremini mushrooms as well)
2 large portobello mushrooms, julienne
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 tsp fish sauce (game changer, but also not necessary if you don’t have it at your local grocer)
1/4 cup soy sauce or mushroom soy sauce
2 Tbsp Miso paste
1 Tbsp spicy chili paste
1 small shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 soft French Baguette
Cilantro leaves for topping
Prepare the tofu by draining it from the package, and pressing the tofu evenly for at least 30 min to an hour before cooking. For extra firm consistency, consider freezing the tofu once sliced into even 1 cm sized slivers for 2-4 minutes. This will allow the tofu to stay firm, free of water, and easily fry in order to receive a non-chewy consistency. GAME CHANGER.
In a bowl, combine the fish sauce, soy sauce, miso paste, chili paste, shallots, and garlic together and whisk evenly.
In a large skillet on medium high heat, cook the mushrooms in olive oil allowing room for the mushrooms to lay evenly. Do not stir or fiddle with the mushrooms for at least 2-3 minutes as this will increase moisture in the pan causing mushrooms to become spongy. Once one side is cooked properly and browned, flip the mushrooms over and cook the other side in the same manner. Set aside.
Add tofu to the pan with remaining olive oil, add extra if needed. Cook the tofu on one side until golden brown and then flip the tofu over and cook the same side accordingly. Then, add the mushrooms back to the pan with the tofu and pour in the soy miso sauce you made prior. Allow cooking for another 2-3 minutes, until the sauce has been well absorbed into the tofu and mushrooms. Set aside.
To build the sandwich, cut the French Baguette in half lengthwise and add some of the chipotle mayo on both sides of the loaf. Add the tofu and mushrooms to the bottom half of the sandwich and top with pickled vegetables and cilantro leaves. Enjoy!