Let’s get a bit cultural. Bahn Mi is a Vietnamese word that means, “All kinds of bread.” It typically comes with a bunch of pickled vegetables, and a protein. It became popular after the French influence (imperialism, whatever you want to call it) when they’d introduced Baguette to the Vietnamese people.
So my bread of choice for this dish, since I have, “all kinds” to choose from, is the most obvious choice. PIZZA!!!! Because Pizza is life. I was going to opt for premade pizza dough, but it’s more cost effective and fulfilling just to make my own. I did work as a pizza cook for a few months so it’s in my soul.
Pizza dough is super, duper easy to make. You take some warm water, and add your dry active yeast to allow it to bloom. It’s important that the water is WARM and not HOT because if it’s too hot you’ll kill the yeast and have crappy pizza. I like to add some sugar to this mix as well, because yeast feasts on sugar.
Next you want to take your flour, and mix it with some salt. No need for sifting, we’re not getting that fancy today. Once your yeast is good and bloomed, you want to add it all to a food processor or mixer. I didn’t have either on hand, so I used a hand mixer, and then kneaded it by hand. But either way, the dough should form into a somewhat sticky ball. Remove the dough from the processor/mixer/whatever and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover it up with some plastic wrap and let it rise for at least an hour.
Now it’s time to pickle! Grab yourself a large carrot, and a cucumber. Remove the seeds from the cucumber, and chop it up into match sticks. Do the same with the carrots, but removing the skin instead of the seeds. Because there are no seeds. Duh.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together some rice wine vinegar, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Mix in your carrot and cucumber sticks and cover. Allow it to sit for about an hour, the longer the better.
You’re not done prepping yet! There’s a bit more to do. Take a block of tofu, freeze dry it if you wish, or press it. This is a nifty trick I learned recently. You place the block of tofu on a plate, and place another plate on top of the tofu. Then you take a bowl, (I used a small bowl of ginger and garlic, you don’t want it to be too heavy) and placed that on top of the plate. This way it lightly presses down on the tofu, expelling the excess water. Once the tofu has been pressed, slice it into ¼ strips and marinade with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup, and freshly grated ginger. Cover and set aside.
Lastly, you need to make the sauce. First, you need some veganaise. I didn’t have any on hand, so I quickly whipped some up. It literally takes two seconds. If you already have it, great! If you don’t refer to my second post, Chipotle Veganaise, and omit the chipotle powder. You only need a quarter cup of this stuff so don’t worry about making too much, but there’s nothing wrong with having some extra for later! You’re going to mix it with a bit of soy sauce, hoison sauce, and agave nectar. I have an agave/maple blend so I just used this whenever a sweetener is called for. It’s all getting thrown together on the same pizza, so I can’t see the harm! Cover and set aside in the fridge.
Now! It’s time to get rolling! Before you start, set the oven to 525. You want it to be hot! Lightly dust a clean surface with some flour, and pull the dough from the bowl onto the floured surface. Cut the dough in half, and wrap up the other half for later if you don’t intend on using it now. I baked my pizza on a cookie sheet, so I rolled mine into a rectangle shape (rustic as I like to call it, ugly as my roommate likes to call it.) If you have a pizza stone that’s even better! Make it round. Using a floured rolling pin, roll it out to your desired shape, place it on the baking sheet or pizza stone, and lightly brush with oil. Place it in the oven and cook for 5 minutes, and then check it to see if it has reached desired crispiness. It’s going to cook really fast so be sure to keep an eye on it! Really, be careful. Especially if you have an old, rickety, electric oven like mine. I burned my first crust after 9 minutes, and smoked out my entire apartment. Frightening the cats. So it doesn’t need to be in there very long.
While the pizza is in the oven you can prepare your garnishes. Thinly slice up a chili pepper, you could use jalapeno, but I went with poblano. Pick out some nice cilantro leaves, and set them aside. Lastly, you need a bottle of sriracha.
Next, you need to sear your tofu. In a large pan, heat up a bit of vegetable oil to it’s smoking point, and then start laying in the tofu slices. It should take about a minute for them to brown, once they’ve reached the color you desire, flip them and cook the other side. After they are down, remove them onto a sheet of paper towel to suck up the excess oil.
At this point, your crust should be done, so pull that sucker out. Unwrap all of your toppings and get ready to create your masterpiece. First, you’re going to spread the veganise based sauce all around the crust, brining it close to edges. Next, you’re going to strain your pickled vegetables and lay them out generously. Next, top the veggies with your tofu strips. And lastly, garnish with your chili pepper slices, cilantro leaves, and a scribble of sriracha!
Now there’s only one thing left to do. NOM!!
Bahn Mi Pizza
For Pizza dough:
2 cups all purpose or bread flour
3/4 cup warm water
3 tbsp olive oil
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
For pickled vegetables:
1 large carrot
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
For marinated tofu:
1 block tofu
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
For Bahn Mi sauce:
1/4 cup veganaise
2 tbsp hoison sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp agave nectar
sliced chili peppers
- In a medium sized bowl, combine warm water, dry active yeast, and sugar. Let sit for about 15 minutes so that yeast fully dissolves.
- In a large bowl, mix flour with salt.
- Add yeast mixture to flour mixture either in a standing mixer, food processor, or a hand mixer. Mix until a dough forms into a solid sticky ball.
- Lightly oil the medium bowl, place dough ball inside and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow to sit and rise for at least an hour. The longer, the better.
- Preheat the oven to 525.
- Peel, seed, and julienne (cut into matchsticks) your cucumber, peel and julienne your carrots as well.
- In a medium bowl, whisk rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt. Add your sliced vegetables to this, cover and set aside.
- Either freeze dry, or press your tofu to remove the excess water. Once you are satisfied with the dryness of the tofu, slice into 1/4 width strips.
- In a medium bowl, (or a shallow baking pan might be better to fully cover all of the slices) combine soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, maple syrup, and grated ginger.
- Add tofu slices to the marinade, and lightly toss to fully coat all of the slices.
- In a small bowl, mix veganaise, soy sauce, hoison sauce, and agave nectar. Cover and set aside in the fridge.
- Slice chili peppers, pick cilantro leaves, and set aside sriracha.
- Heat some oil in a large pan, sear tofu until golden brown and crispy on both sides, remove and place on a paper towel or cooling rack.
- Lightly flour a clean, flat surface to roll out your pizza dough.
- Cut pizza dough in half, reserve the second half for later if you don’t plan on using it now.
- Using a rolling pin, and your hands to stretch and shape, roll the pizza dough to your desired shape and thinness.
- Place on baking sheet or pizza stone, and lightly oil the surface.
- Cook for 5 minutes, careful not to burn it.
- Remove the crust, and spread veganaise sauce, stretching it to the edges.
- Top with pickled vegetables, then tofu, then your garnishes.
- Scribbble sriracha all over that bad boy.