All those banh mi in Hoi An stoked my enthusiasm for fancy sandwiches. They reminded me that I had unfinished business with this cheesesteak sandwich; a really great idea that was just too much work. So almost a year to the day after our first cheesesteak attempt, I tried again.
The core of this sandwich is a 'meaty' mix of mushrooms and yuba/dried bean curd. I chose slight variations on the ingredients, going for common Swiss brown and portabello mushrooms instead of the rarer, chewier king oysters, and hunting out a dried bean curd that was formed as thin, bite-sized pieces. I condensed the mushroom-yuba flavouring way down to store-bought stock flavouring, vegan oyster and Worcestershire sauces, liquid smoke and a few pantry spices.
The second key element in a Philly cheesesteak is a cheese! The original recipe included a vegan sauce that needs extensive pre-cooking and a deep blend. This time I turned to our beloved Smith & Daughters hot cheddar and pickled jalapeno dip. It's still a bit of effort, but it stirs up in a single saucepan and tastes spectacular. It was the perfect partner to our mushroomy 'steak', melting just a little around the edges and adding some pickley piquancy.
The cheesesteak fillings are saucy, but not as horrendously messy as I feared, gently soaking into a soft long bun without too many drips. I even struck on a method for preserving the magic when taking leftovers to work; microwaving a paper-wrapped roll for 60 seconds to heat it all through without toughening up the bun too badly.
A simpler yuba mushroom cheesesteak sandwich
(a recipe inspired by a Serious Eats one we made previously)
1 teaspoon beef-style stock powder
75g yuba pieces
4 spring onions (would use 1 brown onion in future), chopped
200g Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced into large pieces
250g portabello mushrooms, sliced into large pieces
1/2 red capsicum, sliced into large pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup vegan oyster sauce
1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
black pepper, to taste
6 long rolls
half the regular quantity of hot cheddar & pickled jalapeno dip
pickled jalapenos, to taste
Place the stock powder in a medium bowl and pour over 1 cup of boiling water. Drop in the yuba pieces, stirring them around so that they're all softened by the water.
Heat the oil in a large frypan or pot. Add the onion and saute until soft. Add the mushrooms and capsicum, sauteing until the capsicum is softened. I found that this mixture dried out quickly, and poured over 1/2 cup water. Add the yuba and stir through, ensuring that the pieces are softened all the way through.
Add the condiments in succession, stirring them through the mixture: oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, paprika, garlic powder, mustard, and pepper. Continue to cook the mixture, stirring, until most of the liquid evaporates.
Cut the rolls lengthways, leaving a small seam where the roll folds open and shut. Spoon in the yuba-mushroom filling, spoon over a generous portion of cheddar dip, and add pickled jalapenos to suit your spice level. Close and eat.