This is a vegetarian/vegan take on the classic Vietnamese sandwich. Even if you love the meat version like I do, you will be happy with this one--the pickled veggies and my homemade mushroom paté are the star.
Marinate: Using a mortar and pestle, pound the chopped lemongrass, garlic and salt into a rough paste then toss with the oil, water, fish sauce and soy sauce. Drizzle over the sliced tofu in a shallow bowl to make sure you coat as much of the tofu as possible. Marinate for at least one hour or as long as several hours.
Cook: Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook the tofu for two to three minutes on each side or until slightly caramelized and golden. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the sandwiches. Depending on the size of your pan you may need to cook in batches. I got 12 slices out of my block of tofu (I used three slices for each sandwich).
Stir together the warm water, vinegar, sugar and salt until the latter two have dissolved. You can use a large Tupperware container or two canning jars like I did and fill the container(s) with the carrots and radish. Pour the brine into the container making sure the vegetables are covered. Allow to cure for at least one hour. A minimum of two hours is best. (Note: I also pickled my peppers but this is optional--sliced raw is just as good.)
Plain mayo would be just fine here but if you want a little kick, add as much samba or sriracha as your taste buds will tolerate. I added one part chili sauce to two parts mayo.
Slice the rolls lengthwise without cutting through the roll completely. Leave one of the long ends uncut to make it easier to stuff the bread with the fillings. I prefer my rolls lightly toasted but this is optional.
Slather the sambal mayo on the inside bottom half of the roll followed by the mushroom paté (I like a generous portion). Add the tofu slices followed by the cucumber, pickled vegetables, cilantro and sliced peppers. Use your taste buds to decide how much of each item you want to use. I like to go heavy on the pickled vegetables, cilantro and peppers. Serve and enjoy.
Vegan Banh Mi: Use your favorite vegan mayo and omit the fish sauce in the tofu marinade.
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