CULT SANDO

By Cuisine2 Minutes
June 19, 2023By Cuisine

JIMMY CALLOWAY, HARPER COLLINS, $32.99

As high-end chefs turn their backs on the fine-dining, tasting-menu model and cost-of-living factors squeeze margins ever smaller, we’ve seen the elevation of the lowly sandwich – slap fine-dining techniques between two slices of bread and you have the so-called ‘chef-driven’ sandwich. It’s a trend that’s here to stay and as a niche within a niche the sando has its own cult-like status. For those unfamiliar with Japanese sando, banish any thoughts of sad, out-of-inspiration lunchbox stuffers and instead, think sandwiches that have had a super-stylish makeover – as with many Japanese ideas they are a happy meeting of flavour and presentation. Fillings such as egg salad or pork katsu are meticulously arranged between thick slices of crustless white bread – and it must be sweet, shokupan milk bread – then carefully sliced to display a beautiful cross-section. Don’t for one minute think that this book stops at the classic katsu sando or fruit salad (that’s right, a white bread sandwich filled with fruit and whipped cream), as here you’ll find tempura baby zucchini, prawn and chicken liver paté, mortadella katsu with mozzarella and even ice cream gets the sando treatment. Imagine how delighted I was to watch The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House on Netflix and see Kiyo carefully preparing fruit sando as a Christmas treat (if you haven’t seen this gentle but joyful drama, which shows life in a Japanese geisha house and its kitchens, it is worth seeking out). These are not snacks that you can whip up in moments and some readers will be left bemused by the effort needed to make a humble sandwich, but if you get it you get it – I guess that’s the cult part.
TRACY WHITMEY