Discovering a tofu sandwich is like that moment in middle school when you discover that there are some vegetables that are actually somehow edible–even delicious. For me it was finding that I really like Caesar salad. For so long I had assumed, as most children do, that a green food is a gross food. And so for most of my childhood I steered well clear of green foods unless they came in the form of gushers, fruit roll-ups or lollipops. But finally, pressured by my younger sister who had decided she liked Caesar salad, I took a forkful and decided it was quite good.
You might be thinking that a love of Caesar salad didn’t exactly make me a true vegetable lover. And it’s true, Caesar salad is as much about the croutons and the parmesan cheese and the dressing as it is about the romaine lettuce. But who’s counting anyways?
And…back to tofu. Tofu makes a perfect centerpiece for a sandwich – it’s meaty, creamy, and flavorful (it’s marinated first in red wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and ginger). It goes great with crunchy vegetables like cucumber, red onion and arugula, which lend the sandwich a lively bite.
This sandwich comes to me via my roommate Damiano, whose mom made it for his family growing up. (And I thought Caesar salad was progressive!)
So give this sandwich a try. It just might be the best thing you’ve never had.
Will Levitt is a senior at Wesleyan University, where he writes about (and eats) food. He blogs about college, cooking and the art of sandwich making – among other things – at his blog Dorm Room Dinner. Follow on Twitter @dormroomdinner.
Makes 4 sandwiches
1 large package firm tofu, sliced into 16 pieces
4 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more for topping
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
vegetable oil for frying
8 slices whole grain sandwich bread, toasted
1/2 cup mayonaise
1 tablespoon sriracha, optional
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/2 cucumber, sliced
large handful arugula
salt and pepper
To marinate tofu: Place tofu in a large tupperware container. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, red wine, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and salt and pepper. Pour mixture over the tofu to coat, cover container with a lid, and refrigerate for at least half an hour (can be stored overnight).
To cook tofu: Prepare a plate covered with a paper towel. Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add a few tablespoons vegetable oil, and place the tofu in a single layer and cook 2-3 minutes per side until browned. Remove to the paper towel. Work in batches until all tofu is cooked.
To assemble sandwich: Lay 4 slices of the bread on a surface. Divide the mayonaise evenly between the sandwiches and spread. If using sriracha, spread on with the mayonaise. Divide the cooked tofu evenly among each sandwich. Top with cucumber, red onion and arugula. Drizzle with more soy sauce and season with salt and pepper. Top with the other slices of bread, cut in half, and serve at once.