Presenting: the katsu banh mi. Katsu is Japanese for "cutlet" and it's the centerpiece in this sandwich. Tofu is dredged in panko and then air fried (or baked) to crispy perfection. Then, it's served on a roll with pickles, tonkatsu aioli, fresh herbs, and spicy jalapeños. Most components can be made up to three days ahead of time, so you can prep during the week and then indulge in this awesome monster of a sandwich.
Katsu Banh Mi: Crispy Tofu Cutlet Sandwich [Vegan]
For the Aioli:
- 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise, 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
For the Pickles:
- 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
For the Tofu:
- 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
For the Katsu:
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 6 tablespoons aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas) or non-dairy milk
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
For the Sandwich:
- 4 hoagie or banh mi rolls
- Slices of jalapeño
- Cilantro or basil
To Make the Aioli:
- Combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, Worcestershirershire, and sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside. If using tofu, blend well in a small blender.
To Make the 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.
To Make the 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.
To Make the 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°F. Set the air fryer to 390°F and cook for 15 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
To Make the Sandwiches:
- Toast the bread, spreading with the tonkatsu aioli, adding a tofu to cover the roll, adding the cucumbers (drained), jalapeños, and herbs. Serve.