For my money, the bánh mi is the best sandwich in the world. It’s spicy, sweet, sour, crunchy, hot, cold, and mostly it’s just delicious, a mix of Vietnamese and French ingredients and cuisines, and maybe the silver lining to the French colonization of Vietnam.
Preheat the broiler. Put two sheets of paper towel on a plate, put the tofu on top of the towels, top with another two sheets of paper towel, and top with another plate. Set aside for around 10 minutes while the broiler heats up.
In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together the sesame oil and soy sauce. Turn the eggplant slices in the mixture to coat, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with a rack. Broil for around 4 minutes a side, or until tender and golden on each side. Set aside and let cool.
Meanwhile, blot the tofu slices dry with paper towels, then pour the remaining sesame oil and soy sauce over them, and turn to coat. Heat the neutral oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and, when the oil's hot, add the tofu to the pan. Fry for a few minutes per side, or until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain and cool.
Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Slice the baguette sections open like a book, so that one edge is still attached, and put on a baking sheet. Cut the eggplant slices in half, and cut the tofu slices in half lengthwise. For each sandwich, spread some of the avocado on one half of the bread, and some mushroom pâté on the other half. Top one half with the tofu slices and the other half with the eggplant slices. Put in the oven and toast for around 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and top each sandwich with some of the pickled carrots and daikon, jalapeño slices, one slice of cucumber, cilantro sprigs, and Sriracha to taste. Serve immediately.
As long as you keep with the basic formula of bánh mi = baguette, savory filling, pâté, fat-based spread (mayo/avocado), pickled vegetables, and cilantro, you can customize to your heart’s content. Whether you use these fillings or something entirely different, let us know how you make yours!