Japanese Eggplant Banh Mi

June 30, 2016
This vegetarian take on the traditional banh mi sandwich is adapted from the mouthwatering version at Strip-T's in Watertown.
Danielle DeSiato
Japanese Eggplant Banh Mi | WGBH | CRAVING BOSTON

Chef Bill Nurse of Strip-T's in Watertown, was kind enough to share his recipe for this vegetarian-but-not-lacking-anything take on the banh mi sandwich. While it has a few distinct components, each is easy to accomplish and they come together in one stellar sandwich. It's great eaten immeditaely, but also perfect for picnicking because wrapping and transporting the sandwich gives the layers and flavors time to meld a little. 

3 tablespoons olive oil
6 Japanese eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
6 ounces firm tofu, sliced into 1/4-inch planks and patted dry
  mayonnaise (to taste)
  sriracha (to taste)
1 24-inch baguette, cut into 6-inch lengths and split lengthwise
  pickled carrot and daikon radish (recipe follows)
1 cup cilantro leaves

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in large cast iron or non-stick silent over high heat until just smoking. Cook eggplant in batches, so most pieces are in contact with skillet, until softened and well browned, about 7 minutes per batch. Spread on rimmed baking sheet to cool.

2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey, sugar, garlic, ginger, lemon zest and juice just to a boil. Let cool then combine with eggplant in large bowl. Marinate for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight. 

3. When you’re almost ready to assemble the sandwiches, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in large non-stick skillet until shimmering. Add tofu in single layer and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and brown on second side, about 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to cool. 

4. To assemble the sandwich, spread mayonnaise and sriracha on insides of bread. Layer on the marinated eggplant, tofu slices, pickled carrot mixture, and cilantro leaves. Wrap sandwiches in wax paper and aluminum foil to pack for your picnic. 


Pickled Carrot and Daikon Radish

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar

2 large carrots, shredded

1/2 daikon radish, shredded

In a medium bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt in the rice wine vinegar then stir in the shredded carrots and daikon. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Cover and store refrigerated for up to 1 week.