Crispy & Spicy Tofu Bánh Mì with Green Papaya Slaw

A mash-up Asian recipe which is very easy to make and perfect for this meatless Monday. The tofu is coated in a sambal marinade, and then coated in panko to seal in all the flavours. Served as a sandwich with a nice baguette and green papaya slaw. You’ve got crunchy, sweet, tangy and spicy. Umami all the way!

Last year we went on holiday to Thailand. I ordered green papaya salad as a side dish for lunch and dinner everyday while we were there. I love the sweet, tangy and spicy combination. Plus it was so cheap there, I might as well indulge in my cravings. My green papaya salad recipe is a bit different, I skipped on the beans and tomatoes. I wanted to keep it more like a slaw, but it is still bursting with flavor. You can find green papaya at most Tokos (Asian stores) in Amsterdam. I bought this one at the Honk Kong store on the Kinkerstraat. I also wrote a Grocery & Market Amsterdam Guide in case you are new here and want to know where to find specific ingredients. You can see the guide here.

I love tofu. But for me I always have to season it well, since it is quite bland on its own. Last week I received some sambals from my friend Lily. Her parents own an Asian store in the south of Holland called Amazing Sang Lee. They are known for making delicious Sambal and they now sell about 20 different varieties. I wanted to incorporate their Taotjo sambal into a recipe. And I came up with this one. I made a marinade with the sambal and coated the tofu in it. Then I coated it in panko to give it some crunch and seal in the marinade. The result is so delicious. This tofu in itself doesn’t need anything else. You can just snack on it like that. But since I wanted to make it into a whole meal, I turned it into a Bánh Mì sandwich.

This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

For the crispy & spicy tofu:
300grs of firm tofu for frying
3 tablespoons of Taotjo Sambal (or the sambal of your preference), you can add more if you like it more spicy
4 tablespoons of sesame oil
2 teaspoons of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of honey or agave
2 teaspoons of white vinegar
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of celery salt
½ a teaspoon of garlic powder

For the tofu coating:
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
1 cup of all-purpose flour

For the green papaya slaw:
1 green papaya (about 600grs) shredded, gives about 4-5 cups
1/2 cup of toasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bird’s eye chili (or more to taste), minced
1 cup of shredded carrot
Juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar (you can also use palm sugar)

Extras:
Coriander leaves
2 baguettes
About ¾ of a cup of vegetable oil to fry the tofu
About 3 cups of mixed greens (lettuce)

 

First remove the tofu from its packaging. Pat it dry with a paper towel to remove the excess moisture. Then slice it into 1cm thick pieces. I prefer them not too thick because this way, you get a more balance bite of crunch, marinade and tofu.

To make the marinade: Mix the sambal with the rest of the ingredients. Brush each slice of tofu with the marinade on both sides. Place it in the fridge while you make the slaw.

To make the green papaya slaw: Peel the skin off the papaya. Then shred it. I used my mandoline with the julienne attachment. But you can also use a grater if you don’t have a mandoline.

In a big bowl, mix the chili with the garlic, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar. Mix it well, trying to dissolve the sugar as much as possible. Then add the shredded green papaya and carrot. Mix well until everything is coated in the sauce. Then add the peanuts. Mix well.

To make the coating for the tofu: Have the beaten eggs in one bowl, the flour in another and the panko in the last bowl. Take the tofu out of the fridge. Grab a piece and coat it in the flour, be careful not to remove any of the sambal marinade. Then coat it in the beaten egg and finally in the panko. Repeat for all.

Pour about ¾ of a cup of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the tofu in batches. Fry until golden on both sides. This will only take a few minutes, so keep an eye on it.

To assemble each sandwich, first add a layer of mixed greens. Then add the green papaya slaw. Finally add the crispy tofu and top with some coriander leaves. Serve right away. Enjoy!

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Vegetarian Banh Mi-Style Nachos

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I’ve been craving nachos lately so I made these banh mi-style. I made quickly pickled carrots, but you can also add daikon if you want. Instead of tortilla chips, I used spring roll wrappers which I cut into squares and then deep fried. And for the sauce, I made a Greek yogurt and Sriracha sauce with lime juice.  These “nachos” are slightly sweet, sour, spicy and very crunchy. A very addictive snack!

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This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

125gr of square frozen spring rolls wrappers for frying (I got the small ones of about 10x10cm), thawed

1 litter of vegetable oil

1 red chili, thinly sliced

A handful of coriander leaves

For the quickly pickled carrots:

1 cup of shredded carrots (you can also make it with half carrots and half daikon)

½ cup of vinegar

¼ cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

For the Greek yogurt – Sriracha sauce:

1/3 cup of Sriracha

1/3 cup of Greek yogurt

Juice of ½ lime

1 teaspoon of white vinegar

Salt to taste

 

The night before, place the frozen spring roll wrappers in the fridge to thaw.

In a medium bowl, mix the vinegar, sugar and salt to pickle the carrots. Add the carrots and mix well. Keep it in the fridge until ready to serve (Let it pickle for at least 15 minutes).

I find that just one sheet of the spring rolls is too thin, you can do it like this but I prefer to leave 2 sheets sticking together because they hold the toppings better. I used kitchen scissors to cut each double sheet into 4 squares. Repeat until you are done with all of the wrappers.

Pour the oil into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, start frying the wrappers in small batches. Fry them until they are golden. Then place them in a large plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until all of them are fried.

To make the Greek yogurt-Sriracha sauce, just mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Add salt to taste. Pour it into a zip lock bag.

Drain the pickled carrots.

To serve, place the fried wrappers on a large plate. Spread the pickled carrots all over. Then slice off the tip of the zip lock bag with the sauce, and drizzle it over the nachos. Finish it by adding fresh coriander leaves and finely sliced chili. Enjoy!

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Rice Paper Banh Mi with Pork Belly (gluten free)

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This is a bread-less version of the Vietnamese sandwich. Juicy pork belly with crackling mixed with pickled vegetables and a spicy mayonnaise. This recipe makes about 12 rolls.

Ingredients:

1kg of Pork belly

Salt

Chinese five spice powder

1 daikon, thinly sliced and pickled with white vinegar, sugar and chili

1 carrot, shredded and pickled with vinegar and salt

1 liter of white vinegar

1 cup of sugar

1 bird’s eye chili, sliced

2 cucumbers, sliced

Coriander leaves

½ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons of sriracha sauce or any other hot sauce

12 rice paper wrappers

Start by pickling the vegetables the night before. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add 750ml of the vinegar and the sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and add the sliced daikon. Then place in an airtight container. Refrigerate until ready to use. For the shredded carrot, just mix it with the remaining vinegar and some salt. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use,

For the pork belly, preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Pat dry the pork belly with paper towels. Score the pork skin with a sharp knife. Be careful not to cut the meat. Sprinkle some salt and five spice powder on the skin and on the meat side. Roast for about 1 ½ hours. Then broil for about 12 minutes untill the skin gets crispy and the crackling forms. Be careful not to burn it. Cut the meat into thin slices.

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Mix the mayo with the hot sauce. Set aside.

Fill a large bowl with warm water. Place one wrapper in the water until it softens a bit. Then remove from the water and place it on a flat plate. Arrange the cucumber slices, coriander leaves, pickled carrot, pickled daikon and some slices of pork belly. Add a bit of the spicy mayonnaise. Roll the paper like a burrito. Repeat with the remaining filling.

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