The sandwich has been around some 200 years, and we haven't stopped loving it.
From the simple peanut butter and jelly, to the sophisticated grilled prosciutto panini, you can bet that between two slices of bread there will always be plenty of combinations to satisfy just about anyone.
Sandwiches are easy to eat, the perfect portable food. A staple of brown-bag lunches, they can be as conservative, or as cutting edge, as you like.
Consider the club sandwich: To me, this perfect pairing of flavors and textures is always a safe haven on a foreign menu. From the tired traveler who wants nothing else on the room-service menu but a club sandwich to the ingenue nibbling on a hip lobster club, it appeals to everyone.
The hamburger is really a sandwich, too: The bun makes it a burger. On grilled slices of rye, it becomes a patty melt sandwich. And what about warm meatloaf on thick sourdough with barbecue mayo? Certainly, you would have to call it a sandwich.
Then, of course, there are dipped sandwiches. Rare roast beef on a Boursin-spread French roll with caramelized onions gets even better when plunged in garlic herb au jus.
Something that always amazes nonrestaurateurs is how loved a great tuna sandwich is by chefs. You talk of a great grilled one with some homemade pickles, and we instantaneously start to drool -- myself included.
And let's not forget the bread. After all, it's not just the fillings, spreads or goodies that make a sandwich sublime. From soft and pillowy egg bread, to crunchy baguettes, to toothsome bagels and grilled puffy pitas, this element can turn the everyday into the exciting.
Speaking of exciting, check out this recipe for cold smoked salmon and thinly sliced cucumbers on sourdough with wasabi cream cheese and ginger pickled onions. Now that's getting adventurous, isn't it?
Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Sandwich
Ginger Pickled Onions (recipe follows)
1/2 teaspoons wasabi powder (1 teaspoon if you like it less spicy)
1 tablespoon water
4 ounces light or regular cream cheese, softened
1 sourdough baguette, cut into 4 (5- to 6-inch lengths) pieces, split, or 8 slices of your favorite rustic sourdough bread
4 ounces cold smoked salmon
1/2 small cucumber, peeled and very thinly sliced
Make Ginger Pickled Onions 1 day before making sandwiches.
In small bowl, stir together wasabi powder and water to make smooth paste. Then stir in softened cream cheese and mix until smooth.
Spread each baguette portion with 1 tablespoon wasabi cream cheese on each side. Divide smoked salmon on bottom bread pieces. Divide cucumbers among top pieces of bread. Scatter a few Ginger Pickled Onions over cucumbers.
Close sandwiches and cut in half with serrated knife. Pass remaining onions.
Ginger Pickled Onions
Makes 1 /2 cups
2 tablespoons chopped, thin-shaved pink pickled ginger (the kind you get with sushi)
1 red onion, sliced 1/8 -inch thick
1 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
Place ginger and onion in small stainless-steel bowl or heat-proof glass container.
Combine rice wine vinegar and water in small noncorrosive pot and bring to a quick boil over high heat. As soon as mixture is briskly boiling, pour it over onions.
Push onions down into mixture with spoon and let cool. When mixture cools to room temperature, place small, heavy plate or bowl that will fit into onion container on onions to weight them down. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, weighted down, overnight.
Onions will keep for up to 1 week in refrigerator. Drain before serving.
Pub Date: 01/13/99