One of my favourite things about living in Toronto is the mind-boggling variety of authentic ethnic restaurants that is available to us – from Ethiopian injera to Trini doubles to Japanese ramen to Portuguese custard tarts to Korean barbecue, you can travel around the world without ever leaving the city limits (and in some cases, all in the same neighbourhood!)
Vietnamese food, in particular, makes regular appearances on the rotation, and not just because some of the best pho and banh mi joints in town are a short downhill bike ride away… though, to be honest, I’d probably go even more often if it wasn’t for the fact that a short downhill ride there means a longer uphill ride home.
Hence why I’ve learned to make some of my favourites at home, where the only trip I have to make after dinner is the short walk to the couch so I can finish binge-watching Season 6 of Gossip Girl. (Yes, I have terrible taste in TV shows. Make of it what you will.)
These vegetarian sandwiches are one of my latest favourites, with their filling of bright yellow tofu flavoured with a classic combo of lemongrass and chili pepper, a slathering of spicy Sriracha-spiked mayonnaise, a crunchy carrot-daikon slaw, fresh cucumber slices and cilantro sprigs.
They’re full of bright flavours and colours and textures, and they totally hit the spot when I’ve got a hankering and can’t be bothered to leave the house.
The best part is that the marinade for the tofu couldn’t possibly be simpler, thanks to Gourmet Garden’s lemongrass and chili pepper stir-in pastes.
The beauty of these pastes is that they take all of the hassle out of the preparation. There’s no smashing of tough lemongrass stalks with the back of a knife (and by extension, no lemongrass bits flying all over the kitchen), no careful seeding and deveining of hot peppers, just a quick squeeze into the bowl and off you go. They’re a lazy girl’s best friend!
The only downside about these tasty banh mi is that they come together almost too easily… but that just leaves me with enough time to squeeze in an extra episode of Gossip Girl (or for a short walk to the gelato shop for a cone, no bike ride required).
Disclosure: This post is part of a series sponsored by Gourmet Garden. All opinions, as always, are entirely my own.
- 1 (14 oz) package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 8 slices
- 2 tbsp Gourmet Garden lemongrass stir-in paste
- 1 tbsp Gourmet Garden chili pepper stir-in paste
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup julienned carrot
- 1 cup julienned daikon radish
- 4 banh mi rolls (or 1 crusty baguette, cut into 4 pieces)
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp sriracha sauce
- Thinly sliced fresh cucumber
- Fresh cilantro sprigs
- Arrange the sliced tofu on a thick layer of paper towel. Cover with another layer of paper towel, then cover with a large plate and weigh down with a cast iron skillet or several cans. Let stand 15 minutes to press out some of the moisture, then discard the paper towels and pat the tofu dry.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lemongrass paste, chili pepper paste, soy sauce, turmeric, and sesame oil. Arrange the tofu slices in a shallow dish, and brush them all over with the marinade. Set aside for 1 hour to allow the tofu to soak up all of the marinade.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the rice wine vinegar, water, sugar and salt until the sugar and salt dissolve.
- Add the carrot and daikon, and toss to coat. Set aside to pickle for 30 minutes, then drain and transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Heat the 2 tbsp canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the tofu from the marinade and gently pat dry with paper towel. Add to the skillet and pan-fry until golden brown and crispy, about 3-4 minutes per side.
- To assemble the sandwiches, split the buns in half. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and sriracha sauce, and spread onto the top and bottom of the buns. Nestle two tofu slices into each bun, then garnish with carrot-daikon slaw, cucumber slices and lots of fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.