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Spicy Eggplant Tofu from Banh Mi Cookbook by Jacqueline Pham

Earlier this month I received a preview copy of Jacquelin Pham's Banh Mi cookbook. The book has a lot to offer: everything from breakfast to dessert and seafood, meat and vegetarian selections. There is even a glossary of Vietnamese cooking terms.

Although I love Vietnamese food, I've never attempted to cook it. This was my first attempt, and it worked out great. I decided to take quite a few shortcuts instead of following Jacqueline's recipe because I was short on time and patience and most of the recipes in the book do require you to have time and follow through.

Regardless of the shortcuts I took, I loved how the Spicy Eggplant Tofu turned out.

Spicy Eggplant Tofu
Adapted from Banh Mi cookbook

vegetable oil
12 ounce extra firm diced tofu
1 medium sized eggplant,diced
 1 2" piece ginger, peeled, chopped
2 shallots, sliced
1 tablespoon black bean paste
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon black pepper

to serve
baguette, sliced, some of the flesh removed, and toasted
pickled carrots, radishes and onions
vegetable dipping sauce: 1/2 cup water, 6 tablespoons sugar, pinch of red pepper flakes, juice of 3 limes, 1 finely minced garlic clove, 1/4 cup soy sauce {shake all the ingredients in a tightly closed jar}

1. Heat a bit of oil in a wok, add tofu and saute until the tofu turns golden. Remove from the wok.
2. Add a bit more oil in the wok. Add diced eggplant, ginger and shallots and saute for 5-8 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, mix together 1 tablespoon black bean paste, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar,  salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes.
4. Add the tofu back into the wok, pour the black bean, soy and sugar sauce and toss well.
5. Cover the wok and let the mixture cook for 5-8 more minutes. Then drizzle with sesame oil.

To serve, add the eggplant/tofu mixture to a baguette, top with pickled vegetables and fresh cilantro and drizzle with some of the vegetable dipping sauce.

I loved the flavors in this sandwich. It's a great option for vegetarians or for meat lovers who are trying to eat a bit better. If you are a family of 1 or 2, you will have some of the eggplant/tofu mixture left: use it on top of rice the next day.

Have you made a banh mi before? What was your experience?