How to Improve Your Salad Sandwich

Chicken, tuna, and egg salad sandwiches can evoke two very different sets of emotions. They are either delightfully revitalizing and nostalgic, or sad, boring and reminiscent of dark table dinners (like fluorescent lighting). The key ingredients never change – these sandwiches are great because of the detail.

Configure base

Poached chicken is a traditional chicken salad, but grilled chicken tastes more flavorful and leftover fried chicken will blow your mind . The heavily flavored breading mixes with mayonnaise to create a crumb-like feel throughout the sandwich, adding texture and flavor.

The eggs are also very customizable. Wrap hard-boiled eggs in miso for a few hours for a sweet-salty flavor, or you can press toasted hazelnuts with them . I also like to increase the fat-to-protein ratio with a few extra yolks, because that’s where the taste comes in. (Anyone who claims to love the taste of unadulterated egg whites is a lying liar.)

As for tuna, I like almost any white albacore packed in water, but Pole & Line (which is sold at Whole Foods) is quite flavorful and flaky canned fish.

Use very good mayonnaise

In fact, I don’t know many “bad” mayos, but I have my favorites. If you live in an area that graces the Duke’s presence, bring you a little of this, but Hellman’s (or Best Foods, depending on your region) is a very good everyday mayonnaise. If you’re making a tuna salad, try Japanese kyuupi, which is sweeter and creamier than American mayo. Trader Joe’s has wasabi mayonnaise, which is great for tuna, but you can get the same effect by adding wasabi or cooked horseradish to any mayonnaise.)

Then there is the Do It Yourself method that lets you ditch the oil and add all kinds of fun flavors. I wouldn’t use cheese mayonnaise, duck fat mayonnaise, or tuna bacon mayonnaise – it will crush fish – but all three will work very well with chicken, and bacon mayonnaise is obviously made for egg salad. (I like Serious Eats Immersion Blender as my main homemade mayonnaise.) Oh, and if you don’t like mayonnaise for some reason, try tahini or your favorite salad dressing (Caesar kicks his ass).

Don’t forget the acid

Fat is flavor, but too much fat can muffle the flavor of other salad components. The acidic ingredients add flavor, balancing the richness for a fuller, more voluminous salad sandwich. Mustard is your friend here. I prefer simple yellow to add a touch of egg salad, dijon for chicken and wasabi, or hot Chinese mustard for tuna. A little pickle brine is also a good way to add some lightning, as well as some sherry, champagne, or rice vinegar.

But be sure to forget the celery

Celery is a useless vegetable that adds nothing but texture and has a light acetone flavor. Instead of ruining your celery salad sandwich, try the diced apple, crunchy fennel, literally any onion, or diced water chestnuts. Have you also seen pickled vegetables? Have you tried pickled apple in chicken salad? Ever wondered what sweet and savory pickled corn can bring to the table? Damn it friends. If nothing else, try the chopped gherkin before you reach for the watery pulp that is the celery stalk. TJ’s have very good ones on the cheap. If you absolutely need a crunchy tasteless crunch, try a crushed iceberg. (If you want the flavor without the crispness, add capers.)

Spice it up

Even if the ingredients of your salad sandwich are seasoned, it doesn’t free you from having to season the whole dish. The pepper should be freshly ground and the salt should be flaky (for flavor and texture). Also take this opportunity to raid your spice cabinet. Curry powder is a great addition to chicken salad, furikake is great for tuna, and nutmeg can add surprising depth to an egg. If you have all the bagels seasoning, try all three. The same goes for a pinch of monosodium glutamate . (If you don’t have pure MSG, some chicken-flavored rale powder is great for chicken salad – a little raccoon tip from me.)

As for the bread, keep it simple. White sandwich bread is something that doesn’t need updating here. (Although I think you could think of a case for a croissant.)


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