Lemongrass Tofu Banh-Mi
My newest most favorite food is lemongrass tofu banh-mi and the Vietnamese dessert drink Che. There is this restaurant here where I usually go to get my weekly fix but this time I decided to give it a go at home and make it for the blog. For those who don’t know – banh-mi is like a sub but with Vietnamese flavors. Its sad that I only discovered banh-mi 2 years ago…much later after my trip to Vietnam. I do remember eating the french baguette very fondly at first and then forcefully as there weren’t many vegetarian options available in Vietnam. Here in North America its a different case, to cater the vegetarians every menu always has at least one option of banh-mi that is made without meat and mostly with lemongrass tofu. I have recreated the recipe – but instead of deep frying the tofu I stir fried it with lemongrass, leeks, chilies and soy sauce. This tofu preparation is pretty yummy by itself, infact you could just make this tofu more saucier and eat it as a stir fry over vermicelli or rice.
Che is a very recent discovery and I love it! You do need to have a liking for fruits, jellies & flavors that are Asian. I don’t enjoy most of the flavors myself, like pandan, grass jelly, palm seeds and matcha. My recipe for che is made with fruits that you might have tasted before …well most of them like lychee, mango, jackfruit topped with coconut milk & sweetened condensed milk. It is such a treat during the summer time. To make the drink you might have to pick up a few things from an Asian grocery store, but you can skip that by picking fruits that are available in your regular one like pineapples, strawberries, oranges etc. You can totally create your own combination and have fun with it! Top the drink with shaved or crushed ice if that is available or else just drizzle some sweetened condensed milk and enjoy this drink this summer.
Serving 1 Sandwich
1 demi baguette
1/2 package firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tbsp lemongrass, minced
1/2 leek (white part), minced
1 bird eye chilly, minced (optional)
1 tbsp vegetable oil or any other flavorless oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mayonnaise mixed with 1/2 tbsp sriracha (less or more as per taste)
pickled veggies (recipe follows)
cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise
- Heat oil in a non stick pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot place tofu in the pan and cook flipping occasionally till it turn golden brown from all sides. Remove the tofu from the pan and keep aside.
- In the same pan add a few more drops of oil (if needed) and add lemongrass, leeks and chilies and stir fry for a minute or till they turn slightly golden.
- Add tofu and and stir around gently for a few seconds.
- Add soy sauce and continue to stir till all the tofu pieces are coated with soy sauce and lemongrass mixture evenly. Remove from hear, keep aside.
- Cut the baguette lengthwise without cutting it all the way through and keeping it attached in the back.
- Smear sriracha mayo liberally on the inside of both sides.
- Place 4 to 6 piece of tofu lengthwise, add pickled veggies, cucumber and cilantro. Slice the sandwich in half and serve with extra drizzle d sriracha (if desired).
For pickled veggies
1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 daikon, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 cup water
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
In a mason jar, add water, vinegar, salt & sugar. Shake to combine till all the sugar and salt is dissolved. Add the cut vegetables and push with a fork to submerge in the liquid completely. Let the veggies pickle for an hour.
Pomegranate seeds (optional)
1 Mango, peeled and cut up roughly
1 tsp agar agar
2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp simple syrup (equal parts water & sugar boiled till the sugar dissolves)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
- Place cut up mango, sugar and 2 tbsp of water in a blender and whiz to make a smooth puree. Place in a small pot and add agar agar. Mix well and cook on medium heat till the mixture starts to bubble. Turn the heat to low and cook for a minute. Pour in a square baking dish or a glass dish and leave on the counter for 3 to 4 hrs or till the jelly sets. Once the jelly sets, unmould and cut into small squares.
- Slice 2 jackfruits into thin slices. Cut 4 to 5 lychee into halves.
- In a tall glass add jelly, lychee, jackfruit and pomegranate. Add the simple syrup and pour coconut milk on top. If available top the glass with some crushed or shaved ice and drizzle with condensed milk. If shaved ice is not available, drizzle the condensed milk on top of coconut milk. Make sure all ingredients are cold. Serve with a straw and a spoon.