Japanese Eggplant Banh Mi
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.
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.