There’s a shelf in the wall unit that houses my cookbooks that is used more than any other. On this shelf sits a treasure trove of ingredients, recipes, information, tips, tricks, cheats, shortcuts, anecdotes and narratives that impart valuable wisdoms that I can then use in my own kitchen as I try foods I never thought I would ever try.
On this shelf are my go-to cookbooks whenever I need inspiration for dinner, cookbooks that I don’t use for the recipes, but for the knowledge of what goes well with what when I deviate from someone else’s recipe. And for someone who usually only has a bite or two out of cakes, there are an awful lot of dessert books on this shelf.
But my go-to reference online is the kitchn. These girls are serious forces to be reckoned with and I may or may not have a little bit of a crush on them and their everything-food-related talents. Is there an old-school technique you wish you could master? They will most likely have a tutorial or a video that will show you how. New superfood you don’t quite know what to do with? They are there to help with cooking info, ideas and recipes.
For instance, until a certain franchise opened recently, Bánh Mì was not something I would order as they were generally made with pork and occasionally chicken. After a while, it gets a bit ho-hum eating pickled vegetables on bread…
Enter Emily Ho, one of the kitchn girls, and her Bánh Mì with Lemongrass Tofu recipe.
Tofu is one of those foods (ingredients?) that I thought I would never try, and I do mean never. But that was until I learnt what I liked (tofu puffs) and what I didn’t like (silken tofu) and how to cook it and incorporate it into something other than a stirfry. And Ms Ho helped broaden my tofu-flavouring repertoire for this is a beautiful and tasty vegetarian Bánh Mì with homemade pickled vegetables.
If you are not already familiar with the kitchn, take a few days off work, there is a lot of great material on this site and many of us can’t thank these girls enough for their pearls of wisdom and their bag of kitchen tricks.
Bánh Mì with Lemongrass Tofu
- 2 (8-inch) baguettes
- 1 cup julienned daikon
- 1 cup julienned carrots
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 200g extra firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 bulbs lemongrass (minced)
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon coriander (finely chopped)
- 1 long red chilli (finely chopped)
Additional Fillings and Garnishes
- 1 medium cucumber (sliced lengthwise)
- 1 or 2 jalapeño peppers (sliced)
- Small handful coriander (roughly chopped)
Method for the Do Chua (pickled vegetables)
- In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt, vinegar, and water. Add daikon and carrots and toss.*
- Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Drain completely before using.
Method for the Lemongrass Tofu
- Cut tofu into ¼-inch thick slices and press between clean kitchen towels or paper towels to rid of excess water.
- In a shallow dish, combine soy sauce, vegetable oil, sesame oil, lemongrass, and garlic. Place tofu in dish, gently coat slices with marinade, and arrange so they overlap as little as possible. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Cook in a skillet over medium heat until brown and crisp on each side.
Method for the Spread
- In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, coriander and chilli.
Slice baguettes lengthwise, leaving one side as a hinge. Spread mayonnaise on top and bottom halves. Arrange fillings and garnishes: cucumber, do chua, tofu, jalapeño, coriander.
* The measurements given are guidelines; feel free to adjust the sugar, vinegar, or salt to your own taste.
Recipe by Emily Ho as found on the kitchn.