This is a little something I invented for a super healthy dinner recently. This summer I tasted my first Banh Mi sandwich, a Vietnamese dish which seems to be very popular these days. I loved it, but I wanted to make a healthier version, and something for people who can’t eat gluten or are trying to stay away from it. So I made this version with tons of veggies, and chose to put in tofu instead of meat. I also made it once with shrimp, but I preferred the tofu version because the sauce it is made in is so yummy. If you substitute meat make sure it is something with a flavourful sauce – there are tons or recipes available on the internet.
So the idea for the rice paper wrap is mine, but the sauce for the tofu comes from Mark Bittman. I made his recipe a little simpler by using the tofu right out of the package; his recipe calls for cutting, freezing and thawing the tofu – way too much work! And it also tasted great this way.
You can alter the fillings, but it really needs to have some cilantro, cucumbers, jalapeno slices, pickled carrots, and something with a sauce, like tofu or meat.
What you need for the caramelized tofu:
- 1 – 14 oz package extra-dry tofu
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 & 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (or use 2 & 1/2 tablespoons more soy if you don’t use fish sauce)
- 2 & 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
What you need for the pickled carrot daikon:
- 1 large grated or julienned carrot (and some daikon if you want)
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
- a large pinch of salt
- a large pinch of red chili flakes
What you need for the rest of the wraps:
- cucumber cut into matchsticks
- Sriracha sauce
- cilantro, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper cut into matchsticks (optional)
- 1/2 cup spinach, chopped (optional)
- pea shoots (optional)
- spring onions, sliced
What you do:
- Make the pickled carrots/daikon ahead of time. Just combine the water, rice vinegar, sugar or honey, salt and chili flakes and stir to combine. Then add the carrot and give it a little stir. Let this sit for at least 1/2 hour or overnight. I made mine a day ahead of time. Double the recipe if you add daikon.
- Thinly slice the onion.
- To make the caramelized tofu put the sugar into a large skillet over medium-low heat with 1 tablespoon of water. Cook for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time, but not stirring – not stirring is an important to get your sugar to caramelize properly. ( watch a video on how to caramelize here) It will be done when it is a golden brown colour. When the sugar has caramelized, slowly add the soy sauce and fish sauce. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 8-10 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Add the tofu and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the tofu has absorbed a lot of the sauce. Add the tablespoon of rice vinegar and remove from the heat.
- Boil some water to prepare the rice paper.
- Get all your topping chopped and ready to assemble the wraps.
- To prepare the rice paper, pour some very hot water into a dinner plate or shallow pan. Place one sheet of rice paper into the water and let it sit for a few seconds, until it becomes more pliable, but not so much that it tears apart easily.
- Remove the rice paper from the water and place fillings in the middle, leaving room to fold the edges into a wrap. Add vegetables and tofu with sauce, then top with some jalapeno slices and Sriracha sauce to your liking. Fold the bottom of the rice paper part way up then fold the left and right sides over each other, leaving the top open.
- Eat it right away. The rice paper doesn’t like to be kept waiting, and will turn crusty. I like to let people add what they like to their own wraps, so I just lay out all the options and they can go to it.