Certain neighborhoods of Philly are infiltrated with Banh mi. The classic Vietnamese sandwich essentially acts as the Chipotle of the Asian food world, but even cheaper. You walk in, select your “meat”, and leave within 5-10 minutes with an aluminum wrapped, $5 foot-long sandwich, ready to be eaten. It’s a great feeling.
Since it’s so easy to pick up a Banh mi around Philly, I rarely take the time to make it. Yet, it’s hands-down one of my favorites of the sandwich world, and so on the occasion that I’m getting a simultaneous desire for both Banh mi and a chef’s knife in my hand, I put on my cooking hat and grab my own tofu to be canvassed.
When Banh mi making is going down in my kitchen, you can nearly guarantee it’s going to have a little flair to it. What’s the point of making the original version when I can grab that anytime, with little detriment to my bank account? Besides, if I’m recreating a dish, I’m always about finding further ways to maximize its flavor since the ingredient make-up lays entirely in my hands. No doubt, that’s going on with this recipe. Wassuppppp wasabi?
I don’t eat a ton of white bread, but when it comes to Banh Mi, a chewy white roll will always oust a whole wheat counterpart. This is one instance where whole wheat just won’t work. The flavor is unfortunately just too overpowering.
Collard wraps, on the other hand, those can create some Banh Mi magic.
Here, collard wraps are able to balance the delicate freshness of the traditional Banh mi composition, while adding an even extra layer of freshness on top of it all. It lightens up the whole meal, while enabling more flavor to shine through. Peel back that one-inch layer of bread, and the notes of deliciousness from the slaw, cilantro and other jamboree of ingredients are able to reach their fullest potential.
Be patient with the tofu, and make sure it gets a nice crisp so it can add that contrast to the creamy peanut sauce you’ll place beneath it.
For a fun, spicy twist, this peanut sauce receives a generous punch of wasabi that’ll make it stand out among other sauces. I love the flavor it brings to the subtle sweetness of the peanuts and the carrots.
True to the grab-and-go nature of banh mi — but more so with the intention to make your wrap-eating a little less messy! — envelope your collard packages in aluminum foil. This will seal in all the flavors so they don’t end up on your shirt. Although, if you’re like me, that’ll probably happen anyway.
I brought that big pile up above into work last week, and served it with a slide of Asian slaw for my coworkers. Two thumbs up, all around.
Since these are destined for pre-packaging, this will makes a great recipe for your own workweek lunch. While best the first day, the wraps can certainly withstand being rolled up the night before and kept in the fridge till you head out.
By pulling back that layer of white bread, collard wraps lighten up the traditional Banh mi and enable even more flavor to shine through. Here, a spicy wasabi peanut sauce pairs with a marinated cabbage carrot slaw for a fully flavorful and healthy, meat-free meal.
- For the Crispy Baked Tofu:
- 1 (15 oz.) block of organic extra-firm tofu
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- -1 Tbsp. ginger, minced
- For the Marinated Carrots and Cabbage
- -1 garlic clove, minced
- -2 cups shredded carrots
- -1/4 head red cabbage, shredded
- -1/2 c. unseasoned rice wine vinegar
- -1 tsp. light brown sugar
- -1/2 tsp. salt
- -1 scant Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
- -1 – 1/2 Tbsp. Sriracha
- For the Peanut Sauce:
- 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 3 Tbsp. lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce (start with 1 ½)
- 2 ½ tsp. light brown sugar
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 Tbsp. wasabi powder (1 ½ if you don’t like a little kick)
- Hot water, if needed to thin
- Wrap Ingredients
- -1 cup cilantro
- -1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
- -4 scallions, sliced
- -8 medium collard leaves, thick bottom stem removed
- To prepare the tofu: Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drain and rinse the tofu. Slice lengthwise into 1/3-inch slabs. Transfer the tofu in a single layer to a large cutting board or flat surface lined with lint-free towels. Place another layer of towels on top, and then place something heavy on top (like a cast iron skillet). Set aside to be pressed while you make the Marinated Carrots and Cabbage.
- To prepare the Marinated Carrots and Cabbage: Place carrots and cabbage in a large bowl. Whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour over carrots and cabbage, and toss to combine. Adjust seasoning, if needed, and then set aside.
- To bake the tofu: Lay tofu on lined baking sheet. Whisk together 1 Tbsp. each of olive oil and soy sauce, along with the ginger. Drizzle it over the tofu and toss to coat. Sprinkle cornstarch over the tofu, using your hands to help evenly coat the tofu. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, tossing halfway, until the tofu is crisp and deeply golden.
- To make the Peanut Sauce: Whisk together all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Sauce should be fairly thick, but if too stiff to spread, thin with a tablespoon or two of warm water.
- To assemble wraps: When tofu is finished baking, cut each slice into 3-4 long strips. Place collard wraps onto a flat surface. Towards the center of the leaf, spread a generous line of peanut sauce from top end to bottom end. Repeat with the marinated slaw. Line with cucumbers and two strips of tofu, and then top with a generous sprinkle of cilantro and scallions. Fold in the short ends of the leaf, and then cross left side towards the right and begin to roll into a wrap. Place in aluminum foil to secure. Repeat with remaining leaves, being generous as you spoon out each component. Eat!