If you guessed it’s a Japanese sandwich, you’re absolutely right. In fact, “sando” is how the Japanese refer to a sandwich – two slices of white bread with a specific filling in between. Let’s dive into the world of Japanese sando and get to know it better.
The Origins of Sando: A Japanese Sandwich
Sando is a Japanese sandwich meticulously crafted to result in two perfectly symmetrical, well-sliced, and delicious bread layers. It boasts a rich texture and a delightful taste.
In Japan, you can find sando in convenience stores (konbini), displayed in the fast-food section. Recently, sando has gained popularity and can be found in street-side pop-up stores as well as restaurants in major cities worldwide.
The birth of sando can be traced back to Western cuisine, known as “yoshoku,” which also gave rise to dishes like omurice, naporitan, and Japanese curry. Yoshoku emerged in the 19th century during the Meiji Restoration when Japan opened its doors to international trade after 250 years of isolation.
During the Meiji era, the government promoted “bunmei kaika,” a campaign to adopt Western culture, including culinary practices. Gradually, the Japanese started adapting various Western recipes while using local ingredients and methods as the foundation of yoshoku.
For example, tonkatsu, which consists of breaded and deep-fried pork cutlets, similar to tempura-style frying, is thought to have been adapted from a French dish by some, while others believe it is akin to a German dish using young beef.
The emergence of tonkatsu paved the way for another yoshoku dish after World War II – katsu sando, a Japanese sandwich filled with thick slices of fluffy bread and pork cutlets right in the center.
What’s Inside a Sando?
What makes sando special? First, it’s the type of bread used, known as “shokupan” or milk bread. This bread is the perfect choice to encase the dense fillings of a sando.
Shokupan is characterized by its soft, pillow-like texture. It remains crispy on the outside while being soft and fluffy on the inside. When you take a bite, the bread doesn’t feel dense but rather light, which complements the sando’s filling.
Second, the fillings of a sando can be quite diverse. A katsu sando can contain “menchi katsu” (slices of beef or pork) or “ebi katsu” (fried shrimp pieces). These meat pieces are well-seasoned, coated with a crispy batter, and fried to a golden brown, remaining juicy but not overly dry.
To add texture, katsu sando can also include cabbage slaw and sweet tonkatsu sauce. There’s also an option for katsu sando with tangy mayonnaise, providing a combination of sour, sweet, and savory flavors.
In other words, the sauce inside the sando plays a crucial role in harmonizing the taste between the bread and the meat, enhancing the richness in every bite.
Lastly, the presentation of sando is worth noting. Each filling is meticulously arranged to create a dense layer, and the sando is carefully folded, sometimes wrapped in plastic wrap or sandwich paper.
As a result, sando is not only delicious but also visually appealing and appetizing when enjoyed.
Types of Japanese Sandwich, Sando
Several types of sando are popular and can be bought in konbini. Various other sando variations have made their way into restaurant menus with luxurious fillings, further elevating the charm of this Japanese sandwich. Here are some types of sando you can enjoy:
- Tamago Sando
This Japanese egg sandwich is simple yet a favorite at local konbini like Lawson and 7-Eleven. It has a straightforward appearance but don’t doubt its deliciousness.
The filling consists of crushed boiled eggs mixed with chopped green onions, Japanese mayonnaise, and a bit of condensed milk. This egg mixture is evenly spread between two slices of white bread, wrapped in plastic wrap, and symmetrically sliced in half. It’s incredibly delicious, whether enjoyed cold or at room temperature, making it a perfect breakfast choice.
Apart from sando with various katsu, there are also ham katsu and yakisoba (stir-fried noodles with vegetables and meat) sando in Japan. To enhance the flavor, the bread for yakisoba sando is often spread with Japanese mustard.
Katsu sando is further perfected with the addition of tartar sauce and cabbage slices for extra crunch. This sauce pairs perfectly with sando containing crispy fried shrimp on the outside and tender on the inside. It’s a fantastic alternative for katsu sando lovers aside from tonkatsu or chicken katsu.
Salad and bread? Try this Japanese sandwich, and you’ll realize it’s a perfect combination. There are options like potato salad with boiled eggs, onions, and ham, or fresh shrimp and broccoli salad, and even the classic tuna salad with avocado slices.
The choices are limitless, and each konbini has its unique range of salad-filled sando. You won’t get tired of enjoying these sandwiches.
- Fruit Sando
Yes, a Japanese fruit-filled sandwich is a brilliant invention you must try. The choice of fruit depends on the season.
On average, these fruit sandwiches contain fresh fruit pieces with a sweet and slightly tangy taste. You can find strawberries, kiwi, melon, pineapple, peach, and orange among the selections. These fruits are delicately covered in whipped cream, resulting in a sweet and refreshing sandwich, pairing perfectly with fluffy white bread.
Sweet Filled Japanese Sandwich
There are other Japanese sandwiches with sweet fillings. A classic favorite is the banana and chocolate spread combination.
Other sweet variations that turn sando into a dessert include blueberry, cream cheese, and whipped cream. Don’t forget the sando filled with custard, a thick and creamy milk pudding. There’s even a sweet sandwich filled with apple slices between layers of yogurt and lemon custard. It’s rich and fragrant!
In addition to these sando types, there are many other creative variations that elevate sando beyond typical konbini fare. For example, there’s Wagyu Beef Sando with foie gras, vegan sando filled with various vegetables and special sauce, or chicken katsu sando with mozzarella. No matter where you go, sando is becoming increasingly accessible, much like other popular Japanese dishes.