Total Time: 1 hour, plus 20 minutes draining
RECIPE OVERVIEW In Vietnamese, banh mi is the word for bread. However, it also refers to a sandwich featuring tofu, chicken, pork, or pâté and crunchy pickled vegetables. For our own version, we start by making crispy, flavorful tofu. We slice the tofu into sandwich-size slabs and drain them on paper towels to make it easier to get a crispy crust. Then we dredge the slabs in cornstarch and sear them in a hot skillet until they are nicely browned. For the vegetables, we quick-pickle cucumber slices and shredded carrot in lime juice and fish sauce (you can buy a vegetarian version, if desired). Sriracha-spiked mayonnaise gives the sandwich a spicy kick, while a sprinkling of fresh cilantro adds a flavorful green garnish.
14 ounces firm tofu, sliced crosswise into ½-inch-thick planks
¼ teaspoon table salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
½ cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 1 tablespoon juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sriracha
⅓ cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 (8-inch) sub rolls, split and toasted
⅓ cup fresh cilantro leaves
1. Spread tofu on paper towel–lined baking sheet and let drain for 20 minutes. Gently press dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Meanwhile, combine carrots, cucumber, lime juice, and fish sauce in bowl and let sit for 15 minutes. Whisk mayonnaise, sriracha, and lime zest together in second bowl.
3. Spread cornstarch in shallow dish. Dredge seasoned tofu in cornstarch and transfer to plate. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add tofu and cook until crisp and browned, about 4 minutes per side; transfer to paper towel–lined plate.
4. Spread mayonnaise mixture evenly over cut sides of each roll. Layer tofu, pickled vegetables (leave liquid in bowl), and cilantro evenly in rolls. Press gently on sandwiches to set. Serve.