Happy Friday! Let's kick off the weekend with a larger than life sandwich! This sandwich incorporates my two new favorite things: aquafaba and air fryer. My two new favorite toys to play with.
I present to you: Katsu Banh Mi. Katsu means "cutlet" and this is a tofu cutlet that is battered in panko crumbs and air fried to perfection.
This may seem to be a daunting recipe, but it really is more a matter of organization than anything else. In addition, the aioli, the tofu and the pickles can all be done ahead of time, leaving the cooking and assembling for the last minute.
First and foremost, you need to infuse some flavor into the tofu and the best way to do that is to cook it with the marinade and then let it marinate overnight or up to a week. This process hearkens back to the Breast of Tofu recipe, created by Bryanna Clark Grogan of Vegan Feast Kitchen.
For the pickles, it is just a matter of assembling the brine and pickling the cucumbers until you are ready to serve them.
For the aioli, again, just mix and set aside. This is tonkatsu type sauce/aioli that usually accompanies fried cutlet dishes.
Finally, it is time to bread and fry the tofu. Batter it using an aquafaba-wash (if you have it) mixed with plenty of ginger and garlic. Then use your air fryer to get them golden and crisp. If you don't have an air fryer, just pan fry them in 1/4-inch oil until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.
Once you have all the components ready, it is time to assemble! Top with chiles, herbs, the aioli and the pickles.
Katsu Banh Mi
Makes about 4 servings
Note: You can make the following up to 3 days ahead: Aioli, Pickles and Tofu.
1/4 cup vegan mayo, vegan sour cream or soft tofu
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons coarse sugar (or 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar)
1/4 cup hot water
1 tablespoon coarse sugar (or 2 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 (14-ounce) package firm tofu, pressed for 1 hour
2 cups water
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
6 tablespoons aquafaba or nondairy milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
4 hoagie or banh mi rolls
Slices of jalapeno
Cilantro or basil
1. Aioli: Combine the mayo, ketchup, worcestershire, and sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside. If using tofu, blend well in a small blender.
2. Pickles: Add the hot water to a small bowl. Stir in the sugar and salt and mix to dissolve. Add the vinegar and cucumbers and stir to mix. Press the cucumbers down into the brine. Set aside for an hour or 3 days.
3. Tofu: Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch slices the long way (so that you have long thin slices of tofu). Heat the water, yeast, parsley, salt, thyme, and sage in a medium pot over medium heat. Bring to boil and add the tofu. Simmer for 10 minutes and set aside for at least an hour or up to 3 days.
4. Katsu: Combine the panko with salt and black pepper, to taste, in a shallow bowl and set aside. Combine the aquafaba, flour, garlic and ginger in a shallow bowl. Mix well. Dredge the tofu in the liquid mixture and then dredge in the panko. Spray with oil and add to the air fryer (or oven, preheated to 375-degrees F). Set the airfryer to 390 degrees and cook for 15 minutes or until golden and crisp.
5. Make the sandwiches by toasting the bread, spreading with the tonkatsu aioli, adding a tofu to cover the roll, adding the cucumbers (drained), jalapenos and herbs. Serve.
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