After one too many trips out of my way to satisfy my craving for this incredible sandwich, I vowed I’d find a way to recreate it on my own. And oh man, this combination of flavors is totally worth it! Inspired by Nourish Cafe’s combo of sweet potato with marinated tofu and a spicy wasabi dressing, I set out to create each piece of the puzzle.
I started with pickling my carrots and jalapeños, as those are best if they sit at least half an hour. (Ideally, you’d make those the night before and let them really take on a pickled flavor and texture.) Of course, if you’re really short on time, leave out this step and just add some fresh jalapeños to your ‘wich.
When you’re ready to start your prep, start with the tofu marinade, then roast your sweet potatoes, followed by the tofu going in the oven, and meanwhile whipping together your wasabi mayo. If you have any of these steps done or prepped in advance, it makes a huge time-saving difference too. (That’s what I’m all about!) Don’t let this recipe intimidate you even though it has lots of parts. Once you make it once, it goes much faster the next time. Trust me, this is no normal sandwich! You will be licking your lips every bite of the way through, and craving it again in no time.
Makes 6 sandwiches
Quick Pickled Carrots and Jalapeños
2 large carrots, sliced into thin strips (mandoline or peeler works well) & cut to 3" length
2 jalapenos, sliced into rings (more heat) OR seeded and ribbed, then sliced in strips (less heat)
4 C boiling water
1/2 C rice vinegar
1 C water
1 1/2 t sugar, divided
1 t sea salt, divided
a few black peppercorns
Place chopped vegetables into a strainer in the sink and pour boiling water over them. (I like to do this step over a bowl too, and save and re-heat my water as necessary.) Then when limp, rub 1/2 t salt and 1/2 t sugar into them, and let sit for a couple minutes. Meanwhile, prepare pickling solution in a mason jar, by combining rice vinegar, 1 C water, remaining 1 t sugar, remaining 1/2 t sea salt and peppercorns. Shake to mix. Then add vegetables to jar and mix to submerge evenly. Letting sit even a half an hour will be enough to be delicious, but if this step is done in advance, all the better!
Marinated Tofu & Roasted Sweet Potatoes
6 medium cloves garlic
12 sprigs cilantro, including thick stalks
3 T light brown sugar or palm sugar
2 t ground white pepper
1 t ground coriander
2 t Coconut Aminos (or your preferred soy sauce alternative)
2 (3-inch) segments lemongrass, bruised & chopped**
2 1/2 T avocado oil, divided
1 pound extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/3-inch slabs, carefully dried* (see note)
4-5 medium/large sweet potatoes, sliced into 1/2” rounds, skin on
1/2 T avocado oil
Salt, black pepper, garlic powder
Preheat oven to 400.
Combine garlic, cilantro, sugar, white pepper, coriander, soy sauce, lemongrass, and half of oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process until a paste is formed, about 1 minute, scraping down sides as necessary. Brush or rub half of mixture over tofu slabs, stacking them in a plastic container or on a plate as you go. Marinate for 30 minutes, and start sweet potatoes roasting.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss sweet potato rounds with 1/2 T avocado oil, spread on baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper and a little garlic powder. Roast at 400 for 20 min, then flip and roast 8-10 minutes more. Set aside to cool.
Change oven to broiler setting, and place cooling rack on top of baking sheet. (I like to transfer potatoes to another dish and use the same sheet, lined with parchment, to save on dishes and prep time.) Place tofu slabs onto cooling rack and place the whole set up 6-8" underneath broiler. Turn every 4-5 minutes until getting slightly crispy and golden (about 3 or 4 turns). Remove from oven and slice into smaller pieces if desired, then brush on any remaining marinade.
*Drain off excess liquid from tofu and carefully wrap in a couple layers of paper towels. Place on an upside down plate or something in your sink. Then place your cutting board and something heavy on top and drain out as much liquid that way as you can. When you unwrap the tofu, use the same cutting board and cut into 1/4-1/3" slabs (A 16 oz block should give you 4 slabs). Then place a couple layers of paper towels on baking sheet, place the slabs on it, and cover with another paper towel. Carefully press excess liquid out, and then continue with marinating them.
**Also, if you’ve never worked with lemongrass before, here is a quick tip: Remove the outer layers until down to the hearty white inner layer. Then wash, and chop about 1” off the root end, and the leaves as well. Then chop the stalk into 2 pieces (about 3” each) and use a rolling pin or something similar to whack the lemongrass several times, until softening. You want to basically break the cell walls up, so it releases it’s fragrance into your marinade! Then chop, and add to food processor for this recipe.
Wasabi Cashew Mayo
1 C cashews, soaked and drained (can skip soaking if you have a high-powered blender)
2 T unsweetened almond or soy milk
4 t wasabi powder
2 T Vegenaise or preferred vegan mayo
2 T lemon juice
1 t rice vinegar
1 t sugar
3/4 t sea salt
Place all ingredients in high speed blender and mix well. Stop to scrap down sides as necessary until cashews are totally creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed (more lemon juice for acidity, zest for brightness, or salt/sugar for salty or sweetness)
What You’ll Need for Assembly:
12 thick slices of hearty bread, or 2 large baguettes (ciabatta rolls would work well here also)
Wasabi Cashew Mayo
Roasted sweet potatoes
Banh Mi Tofu slices
Pickled Carrots & Jalapeños
To assemble your sandwich, slightly toast your bread slices, and spread a plentiful layer of Wasabi Cashew Mayo. Then add layers of tofu, sweet potatoes, pickled carrots, jalapenos, and if desired, some cucumber and cilantro. If you see this recipe through to the end, it’s sure to reward you with an amazing burst of flavors that pair so well together. Gourmet Vietnamese that's vegan? Yes please!! Let me know what you think!
With Health + Happiness,