Alibi V.15 No.34 • Aug 24-30, 2006 

Hot Knives

Colonel Kurtz’ Napalm Báhn Mì

Fixin’s fit for the king of sandwiches
Fixin’s fit for the king of sandwiches
Alex Brown and Evan George

We’d like to think that when Marlon Brando was getting ready to emerge on the set of Apocalypse Now he started gorging himself on something that was regionally specific. He wanted something that would keep him cool and satiated in the jungle, something that would soothe and excite his sizable abdomen when Francis Ford Coppola pumped him full of drugs after butchering cows and freaking out in front of Playboy Bunnies. “I don’t need to read the script,” he thought. “I just need another goddamn sandwich.”

This is our take on the most old-school of Franco-Asian fusion: báhn mì, the fresh and awesome Vietnamese baguette sandwich. Make one of these and terminate … terminate with extreme prejudice.

The Sandwich

American “silken-style” tofu will fall apart if you try to fry it. Use a spongy, Asian brand instead.
Serves 8


1 large shallot, minced
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons minced lemongrass (or 2 tablespoons lemongrass paste)
Juice and zest from 1 lime, seeds removed
1 small bulb ginger, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin, long strips
1/3 cup chickpea flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 brick extra-firm tofu, drained of excess water and sliced width-wise into thin rectangles
2 cups canola oil
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 long French baguettes
4 jalapeños, thinly sliced
2 cups mung bean sprouts, washed and patted dry
4 cups cilantro leaves, washed and patted dry

1. Combine the minced shallot, oil, vinegar, lemongrass, lime juice and zest, ginger and black pepper. Whisk. Place carrot strips in the vinaigrette and set aside.

2. Combine chickpea and all-purpose flours, then coat tofu thoroughly in the flour mixture. In a shallow pan, heat canola oil over high heat and fry tofu, flipping to crisp both sides. Remove from heat and season with salt and garlic powder. Let cool and slice into thin strips.

3. Slice each baguette length-wise, being careful not to cut all the way through the bread. Slather one face with Sriracha mayo (see recipe below). Pile on tofu, marinated carrot strips, sliced jalapeños and mung bean sprouts. Drizzle with shallot-lemongrass vinaigrette and stuff with cilantro. Close sandwiches and secure with toothpicks, if needed. Cut each sandwich into fours and serve. “Smells like … victory.”

Sriracha and Basil Mayo


1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 basil leaves, cut into thin, crosswise strips (or chiffonade)


1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Slather on sandwiches.

Beverage: PranQster Golden Ale

Soundtrack: Gong’s Angel’s Egg

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