Making your own pickles might sounds like a P.I.T.A. but it’s actually quite simple and rewarding. Make the pickles on Saturday and have them ready and waiting for you at Sunday brunch.
If star anise isn’t already a common ingredient for you, it’s best to purchase them from a bulkbin at a spice store (like Penzey’s), asian market or health food store. You can purchase only the four you need for the pickles! Once, when I only needed a few, they weren’t heavy enough to register on the scale and the cashier just gave them to me for free. Hee hee.
For the tofu:
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
3/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
4 scallions, white and green parts divided and sliced very thin
4 cloves garlic, peeled and mince
1 pound firm or extra firm tofu, drained
1/2 cup vegetable broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce (preferably Thai thin soy sauce ) or tamari
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder, any variety
4 six to eight inch crusty sandwich rolls or sliced from 2 baguettes
Thin slices of ripe tomato
Paper thin slices of red radish or matchsticks of daikon or jicama
Asian garlic chili sauce (such as Sriracha or sambal oelek)
For the pickles:
1/2 pound daikon radish (about one slender 10 inch radish)
1/4 pound carrots (about 2 large carrots)
6 large green jalape?o or serrano chilies, stems removed
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns, black or mixed color
4 whole star anise
Make the pickles ahead of time:
Peel daikon and carrots and slice into thin long matchsticks no thicker than 1/4 inch: I use a mandolin for this but you can take your time and use a chef’s knife. Or even better, use a Y-shaped julienne peeler. Slice the chilies in half, remove the seeds (or keep them in for really hot pickles), and slice into very thin slivers. Toss everything together and pack into a clean, dry 1 pint glass mason jar.
In a small saucepan bring to a gentle boil the vinegar, sugar, salt, peppercorns and star anise and boil for 2 minutes. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt and then pour everything over the vegetables in the jar, including the star anise and peppercorns. Cover very tightly and chill for 30 minutes before using. Keep tightly covered and chilled when not using.
Make the sandwich:
Heat a wok or cast iron skillet until nearly smoking, then sauté mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of oil until tender and browned, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from wok, wipe down the surface and add remaining oil. Add the shallots and stir-fry until golden, about 4 minutes, then add white parts of scallion and garlic and stir fry for 1 minute. Crumble in tofu, add the mushrooms and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Whisk together vegetable broth, soy sauce, lime juice, coriander, white pepper, and curry powder and pour over tofu. Use a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula to stir fry tofu until all of the liquid has been absorbed and tofu is golden, about 8 to 10 minutes. Tofu should be moist, but not wet. Add the green tops of the scallions, fry for another minute and remove from the heat.
Slice rolls in half and toast if desired. Spread insides with mayo and distribute the tofu evenly on the sandwiches. Top each sandwich with cilantro, tomato, radish, chili sauce, and daikon pickles if using. Eat immediately but over a plate…these are messy goodness.