Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tofu Hoagies

I've never understood all the people who insist they don't like tofu. It's worse than saying you can't stand iceberg lettuce. I don't want to eat iceberg lettuce, but only because it has no nutritional value and doesn't taste like anything, so instead, I eat fancier lettuce and get both vitamins and flavor. But tofu doesn't taste like anything and serves a purpose.

And it's absorbent... it tastes like what you put on it. Moreso than any meat product - I could marinate chicken all day and it'd never be as flavorful or versatile as tofu.
[Edited to add: There's a step-by-step recipe for this here.]

My favorite tofu dish by far is the Banh Mi Chay, or Vietnamese tofu hoagie - sweet fried tofu, cilantro, cucumber, jalepeno and pickled carrots and daikon. We made these over the summer when I got a lot of daikon in my CSA box, so I pickled the diakon and some carrots and threw together an awesome sandwich. But a good tofu hoagie has a lot of ingredients I don't typically have on hand (daikon, for one) so it's way easier and cheaper to buy a $3 hoagie on Washington Ave than to make one.

There are four or five places right around 11th and Washington where you can get a Banh Mi - but several of them only sell meat variations, and I'm not interested in fucking around with new meat flavors, I love my tofu hoagie. Until this summer, we used to go to O's Sandwiches over in Cheesesteak Vegas but since they closed we're still searching for the perfect replacement. Yeah, there's Fu Wah, but I'm not going to West Philly for a $3 lunch.

A few days ago I read here about a place on Washington that not only had Banh Mi Chay, but also made their own tofu in house. And sold it to people for a dollar!

At first I thought the sandwich was the best we'd had since O's Sandwiches closed, but Brian thought it was bland. After my 17th bite, I started thinking that the tofu wasn't as sweet as I like, and the "vegetarian" hoagie tasted suspiciously like fish sauce.

So there is a happy ending to this story, even if we didn't find the "next best" tofu hoagie - I snagged some of that $1 fresh tofu and it's gonna be dinner tonight.

I'm a terrible person and I didn't photograph yesterday's tofu hoagie, so here's a picture of one (and a recipe I've never tried) in case you can't wrap your head around the goodness of this sandwich.

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