I love a good sandwich. The best sandwiches have multiple textures and flavors. The queen of the sandwiches has multiple temperatures too. So...all hail the vegetarian polenta bahn mi. We've made bahn mi on the blog before with tofu but since last year, we've consumed a few more and improved the recipe with even more layers, textures and flavor. I would be lying if I told you we didn't finish the entire baguette that day... breakfast bahn mi should absolutely be a thing.
This bahn mi uses organic polenta from Pacific Foods and features organic cheddar and parmesan cheese plus organic butter mixed in. It comes totally ready to eat in Tetra Pak packaging. That means it's shelf stable so you can keep easy sliceable polenta on hand. No mixing, no cooking. Just cut, heat and go. In this case I sliced it and marinated it before searing on cast iron. Polenta is so important for the sandwich since it's nice and warm and super umami. If you're using it in other cases, it's an awesome gluten free alternative to have on hand! Just not this time with a baguette.
For the second umami layer, there's some mushroom pâté. And for those of you who are thinking "OMG. Nope. Do. Not. Like. Mushroom.", give it a chance. I reside with a mushroom detester as well so this has been checked and approved. The mushrooms have been seared and browned to bring out the good flavors and pureed to lose the mushiness or rubberiness that sometimes happens in bad dishes. It makes a glorious spread on a sandwich and I actually kind of took this idea from my trip to New York when I ate at Butcher's Daughter. The sandwiches there showed me you can absolutely layer multiple spreads.
But what's the point of umami if you're not balancing it out with something bright and contrasty? That's where the veggies come in. There are three layers of vegetables on this sandwich. Two are simple thin rounds (English cucumber and radish) but one is a quick pickled carrot done in strips. Why strips? When you fold them they are extra crisp and don't fall out all over the place. It's one of my better accomplishments in life: sandwich structural engineer.
While there are a few prep steps in this recipe: the mushrooms, the pickles, the polenta marinade, stick around! They can all be done ahead of time, in stages. It's not an 'all at once' necessary recipe. And once everything is made, it's so easy to assemble!
Vegetable Polenta Bahn Mi Sandwich
about 4 servings
/// Ingredients ///
- 17 oz Pacific Foods Polenta, original flavor: 1/4 in thick slices, sliced into halves diagonally
- kewpie (mayo alternative)
- 1 medium english cucumber
- 1/2 cup radishes, sliced
- fresh cilantro
- 1 large baguette
- black sesame seeds
- 1/4 c soy sauce
- 1/4 t fish sauce (omit for true vegetarian recipe)
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1/2 t grated fresh peeled ginger
- 2 T brown sugar
Carrot Quick Pickle:
- 1 medium carrot, ends removed, peeled into ribbons
- 1/2 c rice vinegar
- 1/3 c sugar
- 1/2 c water
- 1/2 T kosher salt
- 1 t sesame oil
- 1 T butter
- 1/4 c chopped white onion
- 2 c chopped mushrooms (variety)
/// Directions ///
Polenta: Drain polenta. Whisk marinade ingredients together. Slice polenta into 1/4 inch rectangles and cut in half diagonally to create triangles. Arrange in a single layer in a dish and pour marinade over top. Store in fridge for 30 minutes. When ready to compile sandwiches, heat a cast iron skillet with a little oil and sear each side and warm polenta.
Carrot Quick Pickle: Cut carrots and place in a medium bowl. Add rice vinegar, sugar, water and salt to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir to disintegrate sugar and salt. Pour over carrots. Coll and refrigerate until needed.
Mushroom Pâté: In a cast iron skillet on medium heat, add sesame oil and butter. Add onion and cook five minutes, stir occasionally. Add mushrooms and stir to mix with onion. Allow liquid from mushrooms to evaporate (about five minutes). Once liquid has evaporated, press into a single layer on the skillet and cook on medium an additional five minutes or until the mushrooms have browned on one side. Add salt and blend (leaving some texture). Refrigerate until needed.
To compile: Heat baguette, then cut in half (You want the inside un-toasted). On one side of the baguette spread sriracha and kewpie (or mayo) as desired. On the other side spread the mushroom mix. Pile with polenta, carrot ribbons, black sesame seeds, cucumber, radish and cilantro.
Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.