Katz’s Deli Inspired Tofu Melt
I use an American-style sourdough or rye here, but any bread will do; I like quite a soft crust. The Russian dressing is not mandatory – just a slick of mustard will still make a delicious sandwich. You can just buy jarred sauerkraut if you’d rather. To make a proper fermented sauerkraut, see my recipe here.
For the sandwiches
Oil, for frying
200g extra-firm smoked tofu, patted dry with kitchen towel
1 generous squeeze American mustard, for each slice bread
3 dill pickles, sliced
4 thick slices emmental (roughly 125g)
4 slices white sourdough or rye bread
For the quick sauerkraut
1 bulb fennel (200g)
200g white cabbage
1 good pinch flaky salt
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp juniper berries
For the Russian dressing
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp ketchup
½ tbsp vinegar, from the pickle jar
1 tbsp horseradish sauce
1 pinch salt
For the quick sauerkraut, slice the fennel and cabbage very finely, ideally on a mandoline, and sprinkle over the salt. Scrunch it up with your hands, massaging the salt into the cabbage. Toast the fennel and caraway seeds in a dry pan and, when fragrant, crush in a mortar with the juniper. Massage the mixture through the cabbage and fennel, cover and leave for at least one hour, so that the cabbage wilts and its juices are released.
Mixing all the dressing ingredients together, and taste for seasoning, adding a little black pepper if needed (you shouldn’t need any more salt).
When you are nearly ready to eat, start on the sandwich. Put a pan on a high heat with a little oil, and slice the tofu into four 15mm pieces. Season, and fry until crisp – about two minutes on both sides. When one side has crisped up, flip and top it with the emmental. Leave the cheese to melt slightly, then flip it over on to the cheese side for 15 seconds.
Meanwhile, spread the mustard on half the bread slices, and lay the pickles and sauerkraut on top. When the cheese has melted, and while it’s still piping hot, add the tofu, then take the other slices of bread, spread with Russian dressing, flip and press down on the filling. Cut in half and serve with a napkin.
IMAGE: Matt Russell for The Guardian