For a time in Houston a Banh Mi sandwich was cheaper than a grilled cheese. Now many Houstonian’s want to claim this as the city’s official sandwich. I’m not against the idea. Although it comes from Saigon, Houston is among the first cities in the states to see it popularized. Typically made with barbequed pork, pate, tofu, or chicken, the sandwich is then brushed with Kewpie mayo, Maggi seasoning, a pile of herbs, carrots, cucumber (sometimes shredded daikon) and a dangerous sliver of jalapeno. I started making this into a taco because I had gluten-free clients and I could get my hands on high quality corn-tortillas. Whatever tortilla you use, corn or flour, the key is to toast the heck out of them. This is easy to do with most flour tortillas. Corn tortillas are a bit trickier. It helps if you use a good, local, white corn tortilla and a cast iron skillet on medium heat.
This recipe starts with Asian Pesto Tofu. This tofu is good to make ahead and have on hand. If you are trying to reduce your meat consumption, having a solid protein snack on hand can be a life saver.
Banh Mi Taco
For the Pesto:
- 1 package of hard tofu
- 1 bunch Cilantro
- 1 bunch Basil
- 1 bunch Mint
- 1 Jalapeno
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
- 4 cloves of garlic
- juice of one lime
- 1 cup nuts (Pecan, Pine nuts, Cashews, Pistachios, or Walnuts)
- Olive Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
To make the pesto you will need a good wide bowl chopping gadget; a food processor, a good blender, a mortar and pestle, a hammer and a freezer bag, a knife and cutting board. If you have a really cruddy blender you can use it but you may have to double the liquids like oil and lime juice.
For a spicier pesto add one whole jalapeno, seeds and all. You can remove the seeds if you want it milder. Peppers are mutable beings. They vary wildly by season and breed.
I like to put a fairly large chunk of ginger at the bottom of the blender as an agitator. Then, half the nuts, all the herbs, the garlic, the rest of the nuts, the lime juice and the oil and salt.
Blend, stop and stir several times until a paste forms. I like my pesto chunky and you will achieve that by closely monitoring the blender and the stirring.
For the Tacos:
- Shredded carrot
- Slices of Jalapeno
- Vegan Mayo
- Maggi/ Soy Sauce or Tamari
- Good Tortillas
- Also acceptable is shredded daikon radish
Pluck two or three leaves each of basil, cilantro and mint. Create a couple of slices of cucumber and jalapeno. Shred about a heaping tablespoon of carrot and/ or daikon for each sandwich.
Toast the tortillas on medium heat until they are crispy and brown. Add a dollop of mayonnaise first, followed by the tofu, veg, herbs and then Maggi or soy sauce.