I’ve been thinking about a vegetarian pate and fried egg banh mi since I had a liver pate and fried egg banh mi in Saigon back in 2014. It was my second breakfast that day. The banh mi vendor, Mai Thi Hoang, situated herself outside the gate where my apartment hotel was located. As it turned out, she lived nearby and operated her banh mi stall for extra pocket money, she told me. Her husband had an office job and her son was in college. I liked her spirit. We were both born in 1969. Hers was one of the best banh mi sandwiches I had in Saigon on that trip.
So I’ve been mentally chewing on her sandwich for a couple of years now and as fate would have it, I had a mess of mushrooms in the fridge this week from client project. Plus, there was a block of super-firm tofu. Those were the feature ingredients in this recipe, which I’d drafted long ago but since I wasn’t fully satisfied with it and we didn’t have space to fit it in The Banh Mi Handbook, the recipe got filed. But it was not forgotten.
Revisiting a draft recipe is an opportunity for me to question and validate my instructions. I am often my worse critic, but such self-inflicted skepticism can lead to discoveries!
Why make a mushroom pate for banh mi? If touching or eating liver isn’t your thing, a mushroom pâté may your thing. Or, if you enjoy meatless foods, the pate is great to have around. I developed the vegetarian spread to be rich, earthy, and taupe colored – just like its animal counterpart. To make a vegan mushroom pate, I used super-firm tofu and imbued it with fresh mushroom flavor. You could add some rehydrated dried porcini but I didn’t find it necessary.
The tofu lends body and protein while soaking up the mushroomy goodness. In a pinch, substitute 6 ounces of extra-firm tofu for the super-firm but expect the result to be softer in texture and less intense in flavor. (See Randy's question in comments got me thinking about a possible extra-firm tofu workaround: cut it into the small cubes then let them drain and firm up on paper towel or a dishtowel for 30 to 45 minutes. That will impact the texture some.)