Crumbed Eggplant Bánh Mì

I’ve been kind of absent the past few days, I had hoped for a few more posts with good intentions of sharing some lamingtons with you. Unfortunately the time pressure meant that said lamingtons never saw the light of day. Oh well, some other time. But for now, today’s prompt:

Lunch on the go.

I am usually at work when I need to get lunch ‘on the go’, and there are two things I usually pick from to fit the bill – bánh mì (from one of the multiple places along Smith st) or sushi from Wabi Sabi Salon. My favourite place for bánh mì is Trang Bakery as they have a range of vegan options on offer. Unfortunately it is down the far end of Smith st to me, which means it can be a bit of a challenge to get to in my half hour lunch break. But as I do outreach work, I’m often driving from or back to the office and can stop at Trang on the way/back. My favourite bánh mì there is the tempura eggplant – it is the absolute bomb diggity.

So today, I’ve made my own eggplant bánh mì as an homage to Trang. This is certainly not something speedy to make (although if you had all the constituents made ahead it is quick to throw together) but it’s definitely something you can eat on the run. Well I can anyway.

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At Trang Bakery, they put a colourful relish-like spread on the rolls in place of pâté, which is both mysterious and delicious. As I did not have the willpower to try and replicate it, I’ve created my bánh mìs with a mushroom pâté and a sriracha blended mayonnaise. I’m a big fan of all the extras – plenty of chilli, crushed peanuts and fried shallots. They also drizzle something out of a squeezie bottle on them at Trang which is a little sweet, and I suspect might be hoisin or a blend. I did some drizzling of my own of hoisin and it tasted great. It’s a keeper.

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Try not to be alarmed by the great ingredients list – all the processes are simple, and only involve a little time. The most consuming activity is the battering of the eggplant, but once that’s out of the way it’s all smooth sailing.

Crumbed Eggplant Bánh Mì
(makes 4)

4 bread rolls
1 Lebanese cucumber
, julienned
¼ cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
4 chillis, sliced (optional)

2 Tbsp crushed peanuts (optional)
2 Tbsp fried shallots (optional)
Hoisin sauce for drizzling

Eggplant:
2 Japanese eggplants
1/3 cup cornflour
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
¾ cup soy milk
¼ cup flour
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Pinch of salt and pepper
Spray olive oil

Pickled veg:
½ cup carrot, julienned
½ cup daikon, julienned
½ cup warm water
½ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt

Mushroom Pâté:
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cups cremini mushrooms, diced
1 small onion, diced (about
¼ cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½  cup cashews, toasted
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Sriracha Mayonaisse:
¼ cup vegan mayonaiise
1 tbsp sriracha
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp soy sauce

For the eggplant:
Peel eggplants and slice them diagonally into rounds. Salt them and leave them in a colander over the sink for about 15 minutes to allow some of the liquid to drain. Rinse and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 220C and line a baking tray with paper. Place cornflour in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together soy milk, flour, garlic, onion, apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper. In a third bowl, place the breadcrumbs. Take each piece of eggplant and coat with cornflour in the first bowl, before dredging it in the batter mixture and then coating in bread crumbs. Repeat with each piece, then spray with olive oil. Flip and spray the other side. Place in the oven for approx 30 minutes – flipping once – until lightly browned.

For the pickles:
Dissolve sugar in the warm water in a small bowl. Add rice wine vinegar, salt, carrot and daikon and submerge the vegetables. Set aside.

For the mayo:
In a small bowl, stir all ingredients together. Set aside.

For the pâté:
Heat sesame oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and saute for five minutes. Add garlic and cook for a further minute. Transfer to a blender or food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.

To assemble:
Slice open bread rolls and spread pâté on the bottom and sriracha mayo on the top. Arrange eggplant on the bottom, followed by eggplant, pickled veg, coriander and chili. Sprinkle with fried shallots and peanuts if using, then drizzle with hoi sin sauce.

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