Charles Phan's Out the Door in San Francisco serves a nontraditional fried tofu bánh mì with grilled zucchini and avocado. Andrea Nguyen, a Santa Cruz, California, cookbook writer and cooking teacher, likes to change it up by marinating and grilling a slab of tofu and sliding it into a ciabatta roll along with the vegetables and bacon. Sriracha and a drizzle of the ginger-soy marinade add even more complex flavor.
14 to 16 oz. block firm or extra-firm tofu
2 in. unpeeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
2 pinches pepper
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark (black) soy sauce
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
About 1 tbsp. canola oil
4 ciabatta rolls, split horizontally, or 4 thick slices ciabatta loaf (about 3 1/2 in. wide), with most of insides of bread scooped out
2 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-in.-thick slices
About 3 tbsp. mayonnaise
About 4 tsp. Sriracha chili sauce
12 to 14 cilantro sprigs, roughly chopped
4 slices cooked bacon, halved crosswise
1 avocado, sliced
How to Make It
Cut 4 lengthwise slices from block of tofu, each about 1/2 in. thick. Transfer to a 9-in. square baking pan.
Grate ginger with a Microplane, then press solids through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl to get juice. Measure 2 tsp. ginger juice into another bowl. Whisk in sugar, pepper, both kinds of soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1 tbsp. canola oil, then pour over tofu. Turn tofu to coat and set aside, uncovered, 1 to 2 hours, turning halfway through.
Brush a cast-iron grill pan lightly with more canola oil and heat over medium-high heat until pan is hot enough to evaporate a bead of water. Sear tofu, 2 pieces at a time (reserving marinade), until grill marks appear and tofu releases from pan easily, 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Toast rolls or bread, cut sides up, in a 300° oven until crisp, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, toss zucchini in leftover tofu marinade and grill until tender and browned, about 4 minutes per side. Save remaining marinade.
Spread about 1 tsp. mayonnaise on each half of roll, then drizzle about 1/2 tsp. of reserved marinade and 1/2 tsp. Sriracha on each. Sprinkle half of cilantro on bottom roll halves. Add tofu, bacon, zucchini, and avocado. Top with remaining cilantro and tops of rolls.