Sunday, July 17, 2011

(Almost Vegan) Vegan Cold Cut Sandwich

To clarify, it's the sandwich that's almost vegan, not me. I'm nowhere close to vegan. I'm not even vegetarian. I tried being vegetarian years ago, and it's not for me. I have a lot of respect for people who are ethical vegetarians, but it's not part of my belief system.

I acknowledge that, like most meat-eaters in America, I eat too much animal product. It's not healthy, it's not sustainable, it's wasteful. Whether you think eating animal products is ethical or not, sometimes it's a good idea to eat a handful of soybeans instead of feeding the soybeans to a cow and then eating the cow.

This recipe was inspired by the Tofu Cheese one at Serious Eats, but I've played with it a bit. The end result is a loaf of tofu with a chewy, crumbly texture and a salty, savory flavor that tastes a bit like lunch meat. Not a specific lunch meat, but lunch meat in general. When sliced and added to a vegetable sandwich, it adds that essential something most vegetable sandwiches are missing.

Part I - Prepare Your Tofu
  • 1 block of tofu
Step 1: Freeze your tofu - In the container, in the water, overnight. You can skip this step, but it really does improve the tofu's texture.
Step 2: Defrost your tofu
Step 3: Press your tofu - Wrap it in paper towels or a kitchen towel. Sandwich it between two cutting boards or unbreakable plates, and put weights (I use books or cans of beans) on the top layer. I like to press it a full 24 hours so the tofu gets really flat and compact and dry.
Ghostly backlight optional
Part II - Prepare Your Marinade
  • 1/3 cup miso paste - This is the stuff miso soup is made from. You can find it at Asian grocery stores and many conventional supermarkets, near the tofu.
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 1 tbsp. sake
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. to 2 tbsp. optional additional seasonings of your choice - Minced garlic? Sure. Red pepper? Go ahead. Grated onion? Great idea. I'd advise making the basic recipe once, then going whole hog with experimenting. It's a forgiving process.
Step 1: Mix all of your marinade ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until combined, and keep stirring until the mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat. It will look somewhere between peanut butter and caramel sauce.
Step 2: Transfer half of your miso mix into a container that will snugly contain your pressed tofu block. If you've saved your tofu container, all the better.
Step 3: Put your tofu on top of the miso mix, then cover with remaining miso mix. Make sure all of the tofu is covered, turning it around a few times if you have to.
Step 4: Cover and refrigerate.

Part III - Wait
Let the tofu sit in the miso mix for at least 12 hours, preferably overnight, and even longer if you can stand it. It only gets more flavorful as time goes by.

Part IV - Make Your Sandwich
You already know how to do this, I hope. Two pieces of bread, stuff between. Slice the tofu loaf into slices less than a half inch thick, and put the leftover brick right back into the miso mix. The sandwich in the picture above has mayo (that's why it's not vegan), sliced tomato, lettuce (picked from the garden before it died), and thin slices of onion.

You can also dice the marinated tofu loaf and add it to stir-fries or salads. Or just eat slices straight up while you're snacking out of the fridge.

1 comment:

Lynne said...

Notes on this recipe:
I noticed after I posted that I used miso paste with dashi stock. That makes it even less vegan, but regular miso paste works too.

Also, I scraped the paste off before slicing the tofu, then smeared it back on the block when I put it in storage. You can keep using it on other stuff, like thinly sliced veggies, for a few days.