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I seem to remember an MTV promo from the early ’80s where my personal VJ crush Martha Quinn does a station ID by saying, “This is MTV and we have Simple Minds.” The lack of any searchable confirmation or video evidence leads me to believe I dreamed the whole thing. Dreaming about Martha Quinn was a major past time for me in the early ’80s. Regardless of it actually having happened, it is undeniable that Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” became one of the channel’s iconic videos and Simple Mind’s biggest hit.
Either you believe The Breakfast Club is one of the greatest movies of the ’80s and the peak of John Hughes as a director or you are wrong. Simple Minds became a household name in the U.S. thanks to the epic final scene using “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”. Copied & parodied countless times over the decades, the John Bender skyward fist of defiance is a seminal ’80s moment.
Remarkably, Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff (while working on The Breakfast Club soundtrack) wrote “Don’t You (Forget About Me) specifically for Simple Minds, but the band turned them down. The band felt they should only record their own material. It was then offered to a Who’s Who of MTV superstars – Bryan Ferry, Corey Hart, The Fixx’s Cy Curnin, and even Billy Idol. All of them turned it down. Finally, Jim Kerr’s wife, a.k.a. The freaking amazing Chrissie Hynde finally convinced the band to relent and the rest is angsty ’80s pop history.
Which really has nothing to do with tofu sandwiches.
I am actually not a fan of tofu sandwiches. I understand their place in the vegetarian/vegan sandwich spectrum, but they never really add up for me. No matter what the marinade, I generally feel like I want some sort of meat ingredient. It’s pretty much the reason I never make tofu sandwiches and opt for other vegetarian options.
I originally made this sandwich without the charred broccoli when I was running a small cafe in a library. For Banned Books Week, I made a special menu I called “Banh Mi, Not Books.” In addition to a chicken banh mi & a banh mi style hot dog, I made a vegan tofu banh mi even going to the lengths of making a sriracha sauce with aquifaba. I did not go vegan here choosing to use some Kewpie mayo I had on hand for the sauce. I also added charred broccoli to give the overall sandwich a flavor bump.
I’m using an Asian style BBQ sauce I created for my first BBQ joint. (It’s named Go Go Sauce in honor of Gogo Yubari.) Essentially sriracha, hoisin & ginger – has a nice heat to sweet balance – and works well in this sandwich. If you do not want to make a BBQ sauce, plain sriracha will also work.
You’ll want to pickle the vegetables in advance. You could do them in the morning to use for dinner. Better still is to make them a day in advance. Also, take a day to thoroughly press the tofu. Getting the tofu as dry as possible is key to getting a crispy filling. Ideally, you want to find a Vietnamese baker and get real banh mi bread but that’s probably unlikely for most folks. A good French baguette or Italian loaf will work fine here.
No need to buy a fancy tofu press unless you eat A LOT of tofu. All you need to properly press the moisture out of tofu is a clean dish towel, paper towel, 2 plates, and a couple of heavy cans or books. Wrap the tofu in one layer of paper towel then in the dishtowel. Place wrapped tofu on a plate and put the second plate on top. Put the cans or books on top and place in the refrigerator overnight.
DON’T YOU FORGET A BANH MI
Crispy BBQ tofu, charred broccoli, pickled vegetables & BBQ kewpie mayo on a whole grain sub roll
Makes 2 – 3 sandwiches
For the sandwich
Crispy BBQ tofu (see recipe below)
Charred Bang Bang Broccoli (see recipe below)
Pickled vegetables (see recipe below)
BBQ kewpie mayo (see recipe below)
French baguette or Italian bread
Cut a 7-inch piece of bread and split lengthwise. Spread the BBQ kewpie mayo on each side inside. Place three pieces of tofu in the roll – add broccoli – top with pickled vegetables and a bit more mayo if you wish. Cut in half and eat with your left hand while defiantly stabbing your fist clenched right hand skyward.
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 poblano, cut into thin strips
1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
3 cups hot water
3 tablespoons turbinado
2 tablespoons salt
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 lime, juiced
Combine water, turbinado, salt, rice vinegar, and lime juice in a bowl. Whisk until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add vegetables and toss. Put in an airtight container and let sit for 30 minutes. Store in the refrigerator.
GO GO BBQ SAUCE
(from the Cha Cha Hut BBQ Cookbook)
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoon hoisin
1 1/2 tablespoon sriracha
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Put all ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk until thoroughly combined.
BBQ KEWPIE MAYO
3 tablespoons Go Go BBQ sauce
3 tablespoon Kewpie mayo
1 teaspoon Soy sauce
Place all ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
CHARRED BANG BANG BROCCOLI
1 head broccoli, trimmed to florets then cut florets in half
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Sweet Lightnin’ sauce or sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
In a small bowl, combine chili sauce, Sambal Oelek, lime juice, salt, and pepper and mix well. Set aside.
Heat a cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed pan over high heat until very hot. Add the vegetable oil and place broccoli in the pan. Lightly season with salt. Sear broccoli until browned, about 2 minutes, then quickly flip to sear the raw side for another minute. Add sauce – toss to coat – and cook one minute more.
CRISPY BBQ TOFU
1 block extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup Go Go BBQ sauce
Preheat oven to 425° F.
Slice your tofu into your desired shape. I recommend slices no thicker than 1/2 inch. Add the tofu to your mixing bowl and add the olive oil, BBQ sauce, and soy sauce. Gently mix to combine.
Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove your baking sheet from the oven and flip each piece of tofu. Bake for another 10-12 minutes.
Once the tofu is crispy on the outside, remove from the oven.