How to Make Lemongrass and Coriander-Marinated Grilled Tofu Vietnamese Sandwiches (Vegan Banh Mi)

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Crispy marinated tofu stuffed into vegan Vietnamese sandwiches. [Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Earlier, I showed you how to grill the best darned tofu you can grill. Now I'm going to show you the technique in action.

I've been on a bit of a Thai and Vietnamese kick recently—two of my favorite cuisines in the world—so for dinner the other night, I put together a sandwich that draws inspiration from both. The base is a classic banh mi, the Vietnamese sandwich of grilled, sliced, or stewed meats served inside a mayo-slathered rice flour baguette with pickled carrots and daikon, fresh cilantro stems, cucumber, and jalapeño pepper. With my own recipe for pickled carrots and daikon and ridiculously awesome vegan mayo of both the homemade and the store-bought varieties, the sandwich itself is a snap to make.

P.S. do try Hampton Creek's Just Mayo. It beat out even our favorite non-vegan mayo in a blind taste test last year.

For the tofu, I used a variation of my basic Thai marinade for gai yang—grilled chicken, combined with lots of garlic, thick cilantro stems, white pepper, coriander seed, sugar, soy sauce, and some lemongrass, along with a splash of vegetable oil in order to add a bit of lubrication to the surface of the tofu.

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I grilled the tofu low and slow over indirect heat until brown and crisp on both sides, then finished it off by slathering it with a bit more of the marinade for an added boost of flavor.

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Sliced and stuffed into the sandwiches, it offers some pretty fantastic flavors and textures; Sweet, salty, and savory with a bit of heat and funkiness from the white pepper, along with crisp, charred edges and a moist, tender interior. Food like this makes it pretty darn easy to go vegan, whether it's for a lifetime, a month, or even just a meal.