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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