Sep 2, 2009

Bánh mì

The Baguette Box in Seattle has a really great sandwich with coconut braised tofu as the main ingredient for their take on bánh mì. Lately when we've gone the quality seems to be slipping, which means it's time to start making it for ourselves. One of the great ingredients to this dish is the pickled daikon radish and carrots. Crispy but pungent with the taste of vinegar, they add a really nice dimension to the sandwich. Add to this the coconut braised tofu and the avocado and coriander, and it's a great dish.

Last time I tried to make the pickled vegetables, they came out wrong. This time I learned a better trick. What I failed to do last time was get enough water out of the daikon and carrots to allow the vinegar and sugar to properly penetrate. Much like the eggplant dish, the solution is simply to douse them with salt. To make them, julienne your daikon and carrots and then liberally sprinkle them with salt and about two teaspoons of sugar. In a big bowl, mix the ingredients with your hands for a few minutes. After a short time you'll see water pooling in the bottom, and once that starts to happen you'll notice the daikon and carrots have relaxed their crispness a bit. At that point you can actually pick up and squeeze the sticks to help get even more moisture from them. You'll know you're done when the daikon can be easily bent without snapping; you can even make the ends touch.

Once that's done, place the vegetables in a one quart jar with the following brine mixture:

1 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water

In the picture you can see that the carrots (which were of a variety that's purple on the outside) have turned the brine a deep red.

As for the coconut braised tofu, I tried braising deep-fried tofu in coconut milk with some garlic and ginger. I ended up with tofu with a creamy coconut coating, but not at all what I was looking for, so there's plenty of work still to be done here. But you can feel free to use any sort of "main" ingredient in its place. Just make sure to add the pickled veggies, the avocado and of course the coriander for freshness.

If you have any ideas on the coconut braised tofu preparation, please let me know!


  1. I have daikon in the fridge right now, after an experiment with miso ginger chicken stir fry. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, but you've convinced me! Pickling is the answer. I can't wait to try this (it sounds fool proof, especially with your hints) and create a masterpiece sandwich with the result. Thanks!

    Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my new site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.


  2. Search in Google for 'Braised Tofu recipes'. There is one listed from Mark Bittman in the NY Times. I'm going to give that one a try. It lists coconut milk as an ingredient in the braising liquid. Thanks for a great post!

  3. i used to live and work right by that place-they do make some good baguettes but don't think we tried those tofu ones... we just love our pork so much! :)