Sep 6, 2011

Vegan Bahn Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich) with Spicy Cashew Spread

I've always loved these Asian-French fusion sandwiches.  I usually use vegan mayo, but I thought I'd get a little fancy with a jalapeno cashew spread, that has the consistency of hummus.  If you've never tried one of these, they're savory, sweet, sour, and spicy, with a fresh crunch from the veggies.  These disappeared quickly! 


For the mushrooms:

3-4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound portabello mushrooms (two large caps)
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Mirin or Sweet Rice Wine
pinch of black pepper

For the spread*:
1 1/3 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapenos (you can use fresh, but may need to up the salt)
2 cloves garlic
2 1/2 Tbsp. Mezzetta Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup water (or more)
*This makes much more than you'll need, but you use leftovers to spread on crackers or other things

To finish:
1/2 cup torn fresh cilantro
Thinly sliced cucumber (6-10 slices per sandwich)

crusty sweet French bread (enough for two sandwiches)


1.  Soak raw cashews in hot water, set aside for later
2. Clean mushrooms and trim stems as needed, cutting into 1/2" slices
3.  Add the 3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a large hot skillet, then saute the mushrooms until tender and golden on the edges.  Make sure not to crowd the pan- do two batches if needed.  Remove mushrooms from the pan and set aside.
4.  To the same pan, turn off heat and add the soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, and black pepper.  Stir quickly until thick and  bubbly, scraping up any mushroom bits.  
5.  Pour sauce over mushrooms and toss, then set aside to let cool down and let flavors meld.
6.  Tear up the fresh cilantro and slice cucumbers, set aside
7.  Drain the raw cashews (soaked for 20-30 minutes) and put into a food processor.  Add the crushed garlic, 2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and water.  Add more water by the tablespoon if needed and puree until creamy and hummus-like.  Add jalapeno peppers and pulse until small chunks are well incorporated into the spread.
8.  Assemble sandwiches:  Split two  6" or so pieces of french bread, leaving one side attached.  Spread the spicy cashew spread onto entire interior of the bread.  Spoon on marinated mushrooms, then layer cucumbers, pickled carrots  and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro.  Close and eat.