This Pantry Sandwich Couldn’t Be More Eggs-citing
The Japanese take on an egg salad sandwich
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In these trying times, when you’re stuck inside, you learn to appreciate the simple things: long walks with loved ones… pigeon-watching from the window… flour… yeast… and a simple roll of toilet paper. But that’s not the point here, so let’s talk about the workhorse for everything from breakfast to baking, salads to sauces, the hot to the cold, sweet to salty, it can be the bit-player or just the invisible glue, today we’re here with a recipe that is all about the one, the only, the egg.
This is an easy egg sandwich perfect for lunch or really any time that you want something quick, rich, and filling. We’ve probably all had a classic egg salad sandwich before, but this is Christian’s take on the Japanese version, the tamago sando (literally “egg sandwich”)—or the sando that’s taking the world by storm. But what makes it so eggs-citing? Let’s find out.
This is the essential ingredient of a Japanese egg salad sandwich, but how did it come about?
First things first: to Kewpie or not to Kewpie? That is the question. Mayonnaise was introduced to Japan in 1925 under the Kewpie brand, after the founder of the company, Toichiro Nakashima, had encountered the sauce whilst he was a student in the United States. He took the name and the logo from the famous Kewpie dolls created by the American cartoonist Rose O’Neill. In a few years, it went from being virtually unknown to becoming one of Japan’s most popular condiments, and is now used on everything from salads to sweets to sushi—and of course the ever-popular okonomiyaki.
The iconic Kewpie bottle, red-capped and tear-shaped, can be found in every kitchen across Japan. Nowadays, there are many other brands of Japanese mayonnaise, but Kewpie is still by far the most popular. In recent years, it’s made its way West and is featured by name on the menus of plenty of foodie hotspots.
The mayo in the mirror
So what’s the difference between regular mayonnaise and Japanese mayo?
The standard mayonnaise recipe is an egg (either yolks or whole), oil, acid (either vinegar or lemon juice), salt, and other flavorings (mustard, spices etc.) For Japanese mayonnaise, deep orange yolks of farm fresh eggs are combined with a unique blend of vinegars (a combination of rice, malt, or apple cider vinegar) and an added hint of MSG, to produce a golden-tinged mayonnaise that is richer, creamier, sweeter, tangier, and umami… er. Perhaps now you can begin to appreciate why the world is going crazy for the stuff.
These days you can pick up Japanese mayonnaise (highly recommended to go for Kewpie) in Asian supermarkets or you can order it online. To get close to the flavor using normal mayonnaise, you can try adding a small pinch of sugar and MSG (pure or in the form of bouillon powder) and a few drops of apple cider vinegar.
Eggs and how to boil ‘em
There are a million different techniques to getting the perfect boiled egg. Personally, I like to keep it simple—8 minutes in boiling water does the trick. To avoid cracking the egg from the temperature shock, bring it up to room temperature beforehand and be gentle when placing it in the water. When it's finished boiling, place it in an ice bath to halt the cooking process and to make it easier to peel. Further your egg-knowledge with this helpful article.
The bread and eggs-tras
Traditionally, a tamago sando is made with shokupan (Japanese milk bread), an incredibly soft and cloudlike white bread. The crusts are removed, so every mouthful is extra pillowy. But really you can use any soft white bread and just cut off the crusts.
Moreover, it is normally served au naturel: just the eggs, mayo, and bread. Whilst this is delicious in its own right, sometimes it's nice to complement the soft and creamy sando with some other textures and flavors.
In this version, the egg salad is made eggs-tra silky, by combining the egg yolks, Japanese mayonnaise, and a touch of cream into a sauce which is then mixed with the chunks of egg white. What’s more, this is spread over half a boiled egg: in true style and dedication to get egg on egg on egg action.
This creamy mouth-hugging egg heaven, surrounded by soft clouds of bread, is perfectly paired with crisp and tangy daikon radish, smoky ham, and delicate hints of chive. It’s a real homage to the humble egg.
Published on April 10, 2020