This sandwich is pure awesomeness! I wanted to cook something up that uses pretty basic ingredients and doesn't take extensive hours in the kitchen but creates a "knock your socks off, restaurant quality at home" type of sandwich. I think I did a pretty darn good job! The crispy coating on this tofu is incredible! This recipe only uses 8 simple ingredients and I was really impressed by the flavor of this sandwich! It definitely has that "WOW" factor! I was inspired to make this after trying the "Tofu Steak" sandwich at Outpost Foods a couple of weeks ago. Their tofu sandwich is breaded and topped with some caramelized onions on a ciabatta bread that is spread with some vegan mayo. Their sandwich inspired me to explore more tofu sandwich options.
Lately, I've been craving barbecue! I didn't want to just slather some barbecue sauce on the tofu and grill or bake it and call it a sandwich! Nope, I wanted something more spectacular, something that would stand out from the ordinary. After searching the internet for quite some time and not finding the exact type of sandwich that I was looking for, I decided to make one up myself! So here's the recipe for this beauty!
1 block firm tofu, sliced into 1/2'' thick slices width-wise ( I got 5 slices)
About 1 cup of vegan barbecue sauce (such as Annie's organic Smoky Maple), you may need extra for topping
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 of a large white onion, sliced
1 tsp. coconut oil
Follow Your Heart mozzarella block cheese, cut into thin slices (I used 2 slices per sandwich)
Slice the tofu and place on paper towels and/or tea towels, cover with more towels and firmly but gently press most of the moisture out. I used paper towels and went through three rounds of pressing with the towels (our tea towels were in the wash).
In a shallow dish, such as a 13'' X 9'' pan, place one cup of barbecue sauce and tilt the pan to cover the entire bottom.
This is the barbecue sauce that I used. I absolutely loved it! It was slightly sweet and had a nice smoky flavor that wasn't overpowering. Not ALL jarred barbecue sauces are vegan but I found this gem! I was going to make my own sauce but this saved me from buying 4 extra ingredients. Feel free to make your own!
Place the tofu patties in the dish and place in the fridge to marinate for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove from the fridge and pierce the tofu patties (about 8 times per each patty) with a fork. Flip the patties over (move the barbecue sauce around, if necessary, with the fork to ensure even marination), and pierce the patties with the fork again. Move the patties around to coat the edges with the sauce too!
Place the patties back in the fridge and allow to marinate for about 15 more minutes and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Once the patties are done marinating, remove from the fridge and place the panko crumbs on a dinner plate. Place one patty at a time in the panko crumbs and coat all sides. I did this by placing the patty in the panko crumbs and then gently pressing the crumbs around the edges. I then flipped the patty over and covered it with a mound of panko crumbs from the plate and pressed the crumbs firmly into the patty. Gently remove any excess and place a wire cooling rack that's on top of a cookie sheet like pictured below. A regular cooling rack should do just fine! Using a rubber or silicone spatula, scrape the leftover barbecue sauce in a small dish because we will NOT be wasting any of this goodness! Set the sauce aside for the time being.
Bake the patties on the middle rack for 35 minutes or until the panko is golden brown. While the patties are cooking prepare the onions. Place the coconut oil and onions in a pan over low/medium heat and cover. Once the coconut oil has melted, turn the heat to the lowest setting and allow to cook covered until the patties are almost done baking. When there is about 5 minutes left for the patties to cook, add 2-3 spoonfuls of the barbecue sauce to the onions. Turn the heat up to medium/low and cook uncovered to allow the sauce to thicken a bit (about 5 minutes). While the onions are cooking you can toast the buns if you like. I placed my buns in the toaster and turned on the bagel setting to toast just the inside but you can place them on the oven rack or on a griddle if you like. Turn off the heat for the onions when the patties are done and remove the patties from the oven.
I used Rudi's hamburger buns because they're my favorite vegan buns! These can be found at Trader Joe's, Health Hut, and Outpost! I usually get the wheat (which are so good and NOT dry) but it was the first time that I saw the white buns so I grabbed them to give 'em a try! These buns are nice and dense and do not fall apart easily or stick to the roof of your mouth!
To assemble the sandwiches, smear the bottom half of the bun with a little bit of veganaise, drizzle with a little bit of the remaining barbecue sauce, place the tofu patty on the bun, add two thin slices of the mozzarella cheese (I crisscrossed mine), top with the onion mixture, drizzle with a little more of the barbecue sauce, spread the top half of the bun with a little bit of veganaise, and place the top of bun on the sandwich. Now take a look at that masterpiece, admire it for a second, and take a bite already because I know you're drooling!
JUST AN FYI...I'm not really big on vegan cheeses but the mozzarella cheese that I picked up was awesome! It didn't have that tangy overloaded with nutritional yeast, type of flavor. I think this vegan mozzarella really does taste like the actual mozzarella cheese! I was really impressed! I especially loved the soft texture of the cheese too!
My husband and I literally inhaled these sandwiches! I served these sandwiches with a basic coleslaw on the side and it was the perfect combination! You could easily adjust the recipe to make just two sandwiches (saving the remaining tofu for a different recipe) and then just half the rest of the ingredients! However, I prefer having leftovers and you can easily crisp these patties up again by heating them in a pan!
I hope you enjoy these just as much as we did!