Bánh Mì with Da Lat Spiced Tofu
Bánh mì is the Vietnamese word for bread — specifically, for a baguette, which was adopted (and adapted) during French rule. Bánh mì also refers to a style of
sandwich that combines pork or another protein with pickles, herbs, and French-inflected condiments such as mayonnaise or pâté.
Our version is vegetarian (to make it entirely plant-based, use vegan mayo). We add bold flavor to the tofu by marinating it with Da Lat Spice. The blend’s rich coffee and chocolate notes play well against the bright, sweet pickled carrots, spicy mayo sauce, and fresh toppings. Like us, you may want these sandwiches on regular menu rotation!
To streamline mealtime, all the sandwich components can be made ahead. Warming the bread before assembling the bánh mì is nice, but let the bread cool a bit before spreading with the mayo sauce — if the bread’s too hot it will melt the mayo.
For the tofu:
3 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
¼ cup soy sauce
2 heaping teaspoons Da Lat Spice
1 tub (14 ounces) firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
Canola or peanut oil, for cooking
For the pickled carrots:
2 carrots peeled and cut in julienne (1/8-inch thick) or thin rounds
¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
For the mayo sauce:
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon Sicilian chile flakes, lightly crushed, more to taste
½ teaspoon rice vinegar
For the sandwiches:
6 French rolls or 1 baguette, cut crosswise into 6 pieces
Fresh herbs such as cilantro, mint, basil
Marinate the tofu Put the oil, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, and Da Lat Spice into a large bowl and whisk to combine. Pat the tofu slices dry with a tea towel and put them into the marinade. Gently turn the slices over so that all sides are coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
Make the pickled carrots Put the carrots into a non-reactive bowl, add 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the salt, toss to mix together. Set aside until the carrots glisten and the sugar and salt are dissolved, at least 10 minutes and up to an hour.
Run cold water into the bowl and use your hand to swish the carrots around for a minute. Drain in a fine-mesh strainer. Wipe out the bowl. Transfer the carrots to the center of a clean tea towel, gather the edges, and squeeze the carrots to remove excess moisture.
Put rice vinegar and the remaining ¼ cup sugar into the bowl and add ½ cup water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the carrots and toss to combine. Set aside at room temperature or transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge if not using right away.
Make the mayo sauce Put the mayonnaise, Sicilian chile flakes, and rice vinegar into a small bowl. Stir until smooth and combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Cook the tofu
On the grill: Heat the grill to medium-heat and brush it with oil. Lay the tofu
slices directly on the grill and cook each side until grill marks show, about 2 minutes each side.
On the stove: Put a tablespoon of oil into a large, non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the tofu slices to the pan and cook until golden, about 2 minutes each side.
Assemble the sandwiches Cut the rolls or baguette pieces lengthwise (leaving a
small hinge) and open them like books; spread some mayo sauce on each side. Fill the sandwiches with two or three pieces of tofu topped with some of the pickled carrots, sliced cucumbers, and fresh herbs. Serve immediately.