Sunday, December 14, 2008

December 12, 2008: Po' boys

It's no secret that I'm a sucker for a good vege burger. So when Michael offered to cook me anything I liked out of Veganomicon on Friday night, I zeroed in on the Sammich section and selected the po' boy. Po' boys originated in Louisiana and traditionally involve some sort of fried seafood stuffed into a baguette. Not this baby - it starts with smoky chipotle mayo, is filled out with crunchy cornmeal-crumbed tofu and coleslaw, with a grand finale of pickles! This book is sadly lacking in the photo department, but regardless I was picturing a fine sandwich.

And you know what? It's about three times BETTER than I hoped. It's frickin' mardi gras in a crusty bread roll - just look at it! The chipotle mayo's got bite, the tofu crust is golden delicious with a hint of lime zest, the slaw freshens things up and the pickles are the sweet-and-sour icing on the cake. I ate this for breakfast on Saturday, and on Sunday too. Then I ate the last bit for lunch on Monday. I still loved it, and I reckon you will too.

Po' boys

Chipotle mayo
Hunt down a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (here in Melbourne, you can buy them from Casa Iberica). Finely chop one pepper, and stir it into 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise; additionally, stir in about 1/2 teaspoon of the adobo sauce. Taste and add more adobo sauce if you want spicier mayo.

Cornmeal-crusted tofu
You can bake or fry these. Michael fried them as a birthday treat but we'll probably bake them in the future; we've previously had crunchy-crust baking success with 'fish' fingers. The original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of chilli powder but ours is really potent, so I nagged Michael into reducing it to a measly teaspoon.

vegetable oil for frying
500g firm tofu
1 cup rice milk
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 cup cornmeal (usually called 'polenta' here)
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Stir together the milk and cornflour in a shallow bowl. In a separate shallow bowl, stir together the cornmeal, chilli powder, cumin, cayenne, lime zest and salt.

Slice the tofu lengthways into1.5cm-thick slabs, then slice the slabs diagonally into triangles.

To fry the tofu: Liberally coat the base of a frypan with oil and turn it up to medium heat. Once it's ready, dip a tofu slice into the milk until all sides are coated, then into the cornmeal for the same treatment. If you're a smartie, you can try having one 'wet' hand and one 'dry' hand to reduce mess. Place the crumbed tofu into the frypan, and repeat with the other tofu slices until the frypan's full. Fry the tofu for a couple of minutes on each side, then plonk it onto some absorbent paper and repeat with any remaining tofu.

To bake the tofu: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and lightly oil a baking dish. Dip the tofu slices into the milk, then the cornmeal as above, and place them in the baking dish - no overlapping and preferrably no pieces touching! Bake the tofu for about 15 minutes, turning once.

Finely shred 3 cups-worth of cabbage (ours was purple!) and grate a carrot. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons rice milk, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and a pinch each of pepper and mustard powder. Add the cabbage and carrot, and toss them to distribute the dressing through.

For the final assembly:
sandwich pickles
2 loaves of French baguette

Cut the baguettes into half-lengths, then slice them lengthways into sandwiches. Spread the bottom of each sandwich with the chipotle mayo, then stack it with tofu and coleslaw. Slice the pickles and balance them on top, and round it all off with the top piece of bread. Eat, eat, eat.


  1. That looks AMAZING. I must have it IMMEDIATELY. Though I suspect that it would taste better if someone made it for me. What a great gift!

  2. I'd be a sucker for anything that looked this good - we had burgers at Grilled yesterday but this makes their burgers look dull - I have been tempted by the sammiches in Vegan with a Vengeance and this is yet another of Isa's ideas I want to try

  3. Yum! *drooling* I am hunting for this cookbook right now.

  4. It looks very impressive and bet it would taste divine- nice twist on the mayo too! The polenta tofu looks pretty awesome too!

  5. Lisa, there is something extra delicious about a meal made for you, isn't there? Nevertheless, I will happily make this again for myself. :-)

    Johanna - I reckon as far as franchise burgers go, Grill'd does alright - though I must admit, I'm a bigger fan of their chips!

    Penny, this cookbook is looking like a very worthwhile investment already. :-)

    M's nemesis, the chipotle mayo is so easy (once you've located the peppers!) - I can definitely see myself using it on other sandwiches too.

  6. I just bought this cookbook! I looked far & wide for it and couldn't find, then was having lunch with a friend and he said he bought it at the Sunflower bookshop so we went and got me a copy!

    Have made the tofu from the Po Boys, it is good tofu! And it's an awesome cookbook I have quite a few vegan cookbooks but I love how this one doesn't even miss eggs or butter or meat or anything - you don't even consider that something's missing when you read the recipes.

  7. Glad you managed to hunt down a copy, Penny! I think we've both got a lot of happy cooking ahead of us. :-)