The formula of bread + filling = sandwich seems so simple but the reality is that today's sandwich is anything but easy. There's a sandwich, or one of its many cousins, for every occasion. But, with such a bewildering range of fillings and almost infinite combinations, it's no surprise there are a slew of opinions on what makes the perfect sandwich. Read on for some tips to make a great sandwich again.
No one likes a soggy sandwich: The correct build method is crucial to success. Don't put wet ingredients like tomatoes, beetroot, finely grated carrot or cucumber directly next to bread. Always separate them with a layer of carefully dried salad leaves or dry protein.
Good breads: Artisan breads such as sourdough, multigrain and rye, withstand moisture better than soft sliced white. They also add to the overall flavor and texture. Be careful with holey breads like ciabatta which may not be as robust - these work better cut in chunks.
Butter: Using a waterproof spread like butter helps to keep things together and the bread to stay dry longer. Experiment with salted, unsalted, cultured and nut butters to see which works best for bread and fillings choice.
A barrier spread: As well as slowing down your sandwich's descent into sogginess, a barrier spread can add flavour and lift an otherwise humdrum filling. Try a chilli capsicum pesto or a swipe of traditional basil and pine nut pesto; mix up a chilli, herb or spice-laced cream cheese spread, opt for a layer of earthy hummus; or perhaps an eggy mayo flecked with fresh herbs, an aioli or aioli with preserved lemon, or sprinkle of smoky Spanish paprika.
Fillings: Try to match breads to your choice of fillings to achieve the right balance of texture and flavor. If you're making delicate prawn sandwiches (or using any protein that's subtle in taste like crab) opt for a less highly flavored sourdough or yeasted bread. If you want to serve it on something heavy like a rye or pumpernickel, keep slices thin and amp up the other flavors by using a condiment like a dill-flavoured mayo. Robust flavored proteins like salumi, smoked fish or tuna can cope with stronger flavored breads like sourdough rye or heavy wholemeal.
Only use hot fillings in sandwiches that you're going to eat straight away-otherwise as they cool they create moisture. Heat adds a new dimension- experiment by toasting the bread or toasting, grilling, or even pan-frying sandwiches with suitable fillings.
Try to make every mouthful full of flavour. Layer your sandwich with ingredients so that you're experiencing the delicious real deal until the last bite. Texture and color are important. Crisp fresh vegetables and sprouts add color and crunch, not to mention valuable nutrients. But respect the overall balance-no one wants to send a search party looking for the protein.