While perusing the cookbook, Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes, I came across the St. Paul Sandwich. I’ve never heard or seen anything like it before. Originating in St. Louis, Missouri sometime in the early 1940’s and served in Chinese-American restaurants there, it’s basically an egg foo yung sandwich with lettuce, tomato, dill pickles and mayonnaise between two slices of white bread.
To the Chinese restaurants who first made it, it was probably a way to serve Chinese food in a more familiar form (fusion food before fusion food was even a thing). To me, it seems like an early precursor to the veggie burger. As tofu “egg” foo yung is already a favorite recipe of mine there was no question that I had to make a vegan St. Paul Sandwich.
Decades have past since I’ve last eaten white sandwich bread (I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to go back). Fortunately, there’s white whole wheat bread nowadays, Rudi’s Country Morning White is organic, light, slightly sweet and vegan.
And rather than deep frying the patty like at a restaurant, the tofu foo yung is baked. It’s not as crispy as fried but it was still fun and nostalgic. Even though it’s my first time eating a St. Paul sandwich, between the white bread and egg foo yung, the sandwich just has a nostalgic vibe about it.
Vegan St. Paul Sandwich
Tofu “Egg” Foo Yung patties (recipe below)
2 slices white sandwich bread, lightly toasted
Vegan mayonnaise, homemade or store bought
Romaine or iceberg lettuce leaves
Dill pickle chips
To assemble the sandwich, slather on the mayonnaise onto the toasted bread and top with the lettuce, tomato, pickles and tofu “egg” foo yung patties.
Tofu “Egg” Foo Yung
Makes 8 patties
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium leek, white and some green part, chopped
3 ounces water chestnuts
1 teaspoon oil
14 ounce package of extra-firm tofu
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon or to taste kala namak
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Drain and rinse the tofu, wrap in paper towels and place a heavy weight on top. Press for about an hour. While the tofu is pressing, chop the vegetables.
Heat a wok to hot. When hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the celery and leeks, sauté for a few minutes, add the mushrooms and water chestnuts and cook for another minute or so. Place in a bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Crumble the tofu, add the rest of the ingredients and blend well together. Scoop out a 1/4 cup of the mixture and shape into a patty on a oiled baking sheet. Brush the top of each patty with oil, flip over and brush the other side. Bake for 15 minutes, gently flip over and bake another 15 minutes.
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Tofu “Egg” Foo Yung