You know how it is when you start a new job: you’re awkward, shy, attempting to remain calm and collected (aka avoid looking like a total idiot) while being bombarded with information, trying to scope out a friend – anyone! – to make the First Few Days a little easier.
It’s tough when you start working with someone and you don’t really know where each other stand. I remember meeting Finn and thinking “she seems cool! But…can she be trusted? Can’t go saying the wrong thing because maybe she’ll tell my boss who’ll tell the CEO who’ll tell the whole company and I’ll get fired after my second day and my entire life will end.” Something along those lines.
So a few weeks later, a few awkward huddles around the water cooler and mutual rantings about the dreaded printer, and things seemed a little more “safe”. But still, the idea of spilling my deepest darkest Work Secrets to her seemed terrifying.
Then one random Wednesday Finn mentioned she was having ONE OF THOSE DAYS and needed to curb her frustration with a soul-quenching Viet Sub. She described this sub in such glorious, delicious detail, I knew right then that if I could talk to this chic about anything, it would be food.
I awkwardly asked if I could tag along, to try out this amazing sub, of course. We walked a few blocks to this little 10’x10′ hole-in-the-wall that I would never in a million years have gone into myself, ordered a Veggie Viet Sub, and well, a friendship was forged.
The work walls came tumbling down and we laughed and gossiped about the office while stuffing our faces with a sandwich that could only have been made by angels.
It’s crazy to think that our entire friendship – our blog! our puppy play dates! – originated in that little dingy shop with a cheap sub.
Hey, it was a really good sub.
I’ve since moved on career-wise, but I still dream of that sub. I don’t know what it was that made it so amazing – the perfectly fluffy bun, the flavourful sauce, the tangy pickled veggies – but I’ve never had one quite as good since.
Nor have I been able to recreate it. I’ve come close, but it’s never the same.
Port and Fin’s one year anniversary is approaching next week, so I thought I’d make a similarily-flavoured pizza to celebrate. Queue the sentiment. Aw!
But in all seriousness, this pizza is delicious. Don’t let the long recipe intimidate you! I’m usually all about the easy, simple recipes, and while this one has a few premeditated steps, they’re all fairly easy and the result is an insanely refreshing pizza.
When the dough is rising, pickle the vegetables. While the veggies are pickling, fry up the tofu. While the tofu is frying, whip up the sauce. This can all be done ahead of time. Bake the pizza dough without any toppings, then top with sauce, veggies, tofu, some fresh cilantro and sriracha (if you like it spicy), and enjoy.
I find this pizza is best served while the dough and tofu are warm but the veggies are cold, but if you have leftovers, a quick reheat in the microwave does the trick.
|Veggie Bánh Mì Pizza with Crispy Tofu|| |
- 1⅓ cups warm water
- 2¼ tsp instant yeast
- 3¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp powdered ginger (optional)
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Pickled Veggies:
- 1 large carrot, julienned
- ½ cucumber, julienned
- 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
- ½ cup rice wine vinegar
- ½ Tbsp granulated sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- Spicy Fried Tofu:
- 1 (350 g) package firm tofu, drained and dried**
- 4 Tbsp cornstarch
- 4 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp red chili sauce
- ½ Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp water
- 2 tsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp honey
- Fresh cilantro, to serve
- Sriracha, to serve
- To make dough: Preheat oven to 200°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine water and yeast and let sit for 5 minutes until yeast has dissolved and mixture is frothy. Add in flour, powdered ginger, sugar, salt, and olive oil; knead on a low speed for 5-10 minutes until dough has formed. It should be elastic and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl; cover with aluminum foil, and place bowl in the oven. TURN OVEN OFF. Let the dough rise in the warm oven for about 2 hours until it has doubled in size. Divide into two balls of dough, then use one for the remainder of this recipe. (Prepare another pizza with the second ball of dough, or store in the fridge for another night.)
- While dough is rising, prepare pickled veggies: combine all ingredients for the veggies in a small bowl, adding more rice wine vinegar if necessary to cover the veggies completely. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours (longer if you have the time).
- Prepare tofu: Slice tofu into ½ inch pieces and toss with cornstarch. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then fry tofu pieces, turning often to ensure even browning, for about 5 minutes. Combine soy sauce, red chili sauce, brown sugar, and water in a separate bowl; add to skillet with tofu and cook for another 5-8 minutes until the liquid has absorbed and the tofu looks brown and "glazed". Remove from skillet and set aside.
- When you're ready to make the pizza, preheat oven to 450°F. Sprinkle some cornmeal on a baking sheet/pizza stone, then roll out the dough over top. You may need to add a bit of flour to the rolling pin to prevent the dough from sticking. Spread a thin layer of olive oil over top of the dough, then bake for 12-15 minutes until dough is golden brown.
- While dough is cooking, whisk together all sauce ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
- Drain the pickled veggies.
- Remove dough from oven and spread sauce on top. Layer the pizza with the pickled veggies, prepared tofu, cilantro, and sriracha, if desired. Slice and serve.
**To dry the tofu, remove from package, then pat dry. Wrap the tofu in a few paper towels, place on a plate, and rest a heavy book on top of the tofu. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, remove paper towel and pat dry.