Roopa Marcello grew up eating Indian food at home and sandwiches at school, but today she writes about a variety of vegetarian-friendly cuisines on her blog, Raspberry Eggplant (www.raspberryeggplant.blogspot.com). Her version of the Vietnamese sandwich banh mi chay is easy to make and adds crunch and flavor to lunch.
To make the pickled carrots, in a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar and salt to a boil. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes. In the meantime, peel and coarsely shred or finely julienne the carrots, then transfer the shredded carrots to a non-reactive bowl or container. Pour the vinegar mixture over the carrots. Refrigerate overnight. (If you're in a rush, you can leave it at room temperature for an hour, but overnight is best.)
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To assemble the sandwich, heat oven to 400 degrees F. Put the marinated mushroom strips and the marinade in a baking dish and bake until the mushrooms are soft, about 12 minutes. Let them cool for at least 5 minutes. Cut the baguette open by slicing it in half but not going all the way through. Spread the mayonnaise on one side of the baguette. Place the baguette on a baking sheet and heat it until it is crisp and lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes before assembling the sandwich.
In the meantime, cut the cucumber lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices and squeeze the liquid out of the pickled carrots.
Assemble the sandwich by arranging the cucumber slices in a single layer on the baguette, then topping them with the mushrooms, pickled carrots, and cilantro. Sprinkle the soy sauce on top and close the sandwich.