This one’s for Darcy, who asked for ideas about what the heck to do with a brick of tofu.
We had to make sure that our Vietnamese heritage was represented at Lupe’s school’s first ever Multicultural Night, and we tried to do it proud. So we made a Vietnamese cuisine staple–banh mi. Traditional banh mi is made with pork sausage or slices of head cheese wedged into a hunk of crusty French bread. (If you want to skip ahead to the gluten-free option, scroll down a bit.)
Head cheese doesn’t do it for me.
So we stuffed our sandwiches with marinated tofu.
In a 9 x 13 baking dish: one pound of firm tofu, divided into 8 slices. Mix 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon fresh ginger (1 teaspoon ground), 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, 2 tablespoons honey, 1/2 teaspoon chili paste, and 1 teaspoon sesame seeds in a small bowl. Pour it over the tofu, which you should then flip to make sure both sides get a turn to swim in the marinade. Bake in a 375 degree oven about 20 minutes, flipping the tofu slices once.
This tofu would be delicious served over a bowl of steaming rice, but if you’ve got the time and want to go ahead with sandwiches or the gluten-free option listed below, please proceed.
This recipe is turning into a Choose Your Own Adventure book.
You need something cool, crunchy, spicy, and sweet to put in that sandwich. Let’s go with marinated daikon radish and carrot:
This is a daikon radish. You’ll find it as international markets; I’ve seen it at my neighborhood grocery stores too. Cut off a hunk. Peel it. You’ll reveal an iridescent white flesh. Cut the hunk into quarters…
Mix 2 tablespoons sugar into a half cup of rice wine vinegar, stir until the sugar’s completely dissolved, then pour over the julienned vegetables. You can store this in the refrigerator for a couple of days if you need to.
Take a loaf of good, crusty French bread and cut it up. Put a slice or two of the cooled tofu on first, followed by some sliced cucumber, the marinated daikon radish/carrot, then top with a sprig of cilantro.
The problem with this meal is that the gluten in the bread will trigger an eczema outbreak for Lupe, so let’s make a gluten-free option:
Boil some rice noodles. These usually come in packs within the bag. Boil one pack if you just want enough for yourself and maybe one or two other people. Boil the whole bag if you’re cooking for a crowd. Rinse the cooked noodles to stop the cooking process.
Banh Mi with Tofu (Vietnamese Sandwiches)
(makes enough for a small party or potluck)
2 long crusty French baguettes (or thin rice noodles if going gluten-free)
1 English cucumber, sliced into lengths
1 bunch cilantro
Tofu (recipe follows)
Marinated daikon radish and carrot (recipe follows)
Ingredients for the Tofu:
1 pound firm, tofu, divided into eight slices
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (1 teaspoon ground)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon chili paste
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
Directions for the Tofu:
1. Mix the soy sauce, ginger, pepper, oil, honey, chili paste, and sesame seeds (optional) in a small bowl.
2. Pour it over the tofu, and flip to make sure both sides get covered.
3. Bake in a 375 degree oven about 20 minutes, flipping the tofu slices once.
Ingredients for the Marinated Daikon Radish and Carrot
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup julienned daikon radish
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
Directions for the Marinated Daikon Radish and Carrot
1. Put the julienned carrots and daikon radishes in a small bowl or a jar.
2. Completely dissolve the sugar in the rice wine vinegar.
3. Pour over the julienned vegetables.
4. Will keep covered in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Putting it all together:
1. Slice the baguettes into small sandwich portions.
2. Put on a slice or two of the cooled tofu, followed by some sliced cucumber, the marinated daikon radish/carrot, then top with a sprig of cilantro
Replace the bread with thin rice noodles that have been cooked according to package directions and cooled. Toss with cubed tofu and vegetables, and serve in a bowl. Or simply serve the tofu over rice.