A few thoughts: If you have a boatload of watermelon radishes on hand from a CSA, you can shred those in place of or in addition to the carrots. Or you can pickle them, and use them here in addition to the quick-pickled carrots and cucumber. Warning: If you are unfamiliar, watermelon radishes, upon being pickled, become very stinky. But, after you open their storage vessel and let them breath a little bit, the stench subsides, and they are so good here (or on any sandwich).
I don’t use cucumbers because they are not in season for me right now, but they would be delicious, and I look forward to using them next spring/summer.
If you don’t want to fry the tofu, you could oven-bake it. Use this recipe as a guide, keeping the tofu in slices as opposed to cubes. Frying is kind of fun, however, and it's faster than baking. If you want to make it vegan, omit the fish sauce and use another tablespoon of lime juice or vinegar plus a pinch of salt. Use a vegannaise in place of the mayo.
Shredding: Using a mandoline for the carrots makes them a little prettier, but it’s not necessary. I’ve shredded the carrots (and watermelon radish) using the attachment to my Cuisinart, and while the shape isn’t quite as pretty, I think the shredded shape actually absorbs the dressing faster. —Alexandra Stafford
extra-firm or firm tofu, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slabs
carrots, peeled and shredded
cucumber, optional (see notes), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
Spread tofu over paper towel-lined baking sheet, let drain for 20 minutes, then gently press dry with paper towels and season with salt. Spread cornstarch in shallow dish. Dredge tofu in cornstarch and transfer to plate.
Meanwhile, zest the lime into a small bowl. Add the mayonnaise and Sriracha and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, combine carrots, cucumber (if using), lime juice, and fish sauce and let sit for 15 minutes.
Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick (or not) skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add tofu and cook until both sides are crisp and browned, adjusting heat as necessary (I turn it down to medium), about 4 minutes a side. Transfer to paper towel-lined (or not) plate.
Spread mayonnaise mixture evenly over cut sides of each roll. Assemble 4 sandwiches by layering ingredients as follows between prepared rolls: tofu, pickled vegetables (leaving liquid in bowl), and cilantro. Press gently on sandwiches to set. Serve.