Most men have nothing in their refrigerators but bottles of ketchup, mustard, chilli sauce, and – if you’re lucky – a stray tub of mayo. Clearly, when it comes to gourmet meals, men are unlikely to deliver based on their larder stock alone. However, making a sandwich is an entirely different kettle of fish.
One bachelor friend who can’t even fry an egg without burning himself is a genius at making bacon butties (the British term for a bacon sandwich). Another equally culinary-spastic friend makes a killer belachan sandwich by spreading ready-made chilli belachan on one slice of toasted bread, mayo on another, and chopped boiled eggs in between. Sounds grotesque, but it’s really yum. Evidently, when forced, men can live on bread alone.
Making a sandwich is all about imagination and the right combination of ingredients, so the grand mystery of it all is how it can be so easily fuck-uppable. Every day around our little island alone, sad excuses for sandwiches exchange hands and subsequently fall into the trash bins just because a few basic principles of sandwich-making were not adhered to. Firstly, getting the proportions right is key.
Many sandwich bars and delis in Singapore like to think they’re offering value for money by packing in as much meat or “filling” as they possibly can. I mean, if I wanted a tuna salad bursting with iceberg lettuce and cherry tomatoes, I’d ask for a tuna salad bowl. I wouldn’t ask for it stuffed between a roll. Same goes for that hunk of meat that some delis serve in between their bread. If I wanted a steak, I would have gone to Morton’s.
In my book, anything too fancy also raises some scepticism. Screw the capers, caviar and sundried tomatoes and give me a ham-and-cheese anytime. That being said, quality ingredients are also key. Crispin’s, a chain of delis that pride themselves on hearty, healthy sandwiches, have got the right idea.
“The basis for a good sandwich is always good and fresh ingredients,” says owner Clarence Ling. “Your bread should be good because that rounds everything up.”
Avoid vacuum-packed meats and cheeses on the supermarket shelves as they tend to be richly salted in order to keep well. Instead, head to the deli counters for fresh slices of ham or spend 20 minutes or so grilling your own chicken, which you can keep in the fridge for several days.
Saucing your sandwich right is also crucial. Anything goopy is good and anything that leaves a sloppy mess after you eat is even better. Lastly, the secret to a good sandwich is in the pickles and onions that you put in it. If you’ve always been the sort to remove that round pickle slice from your McDonald’s cheeseburger, try this: chop up the pickles as small as you can and lob it in. You’ll be surprised by the huge difference it makes.
Great Singapore Sandwiches
Corned Beef Sandwich at Steeple’s
Unbeatable hot corned beef sandwiches with melted cheese.#02-05 Tanglin Shopping Centre, TEL: +65 6737 0701 www.tanglinsc.com/shops/tanglin_dinentertain_steeplesdeli.html
Rosemary Chicken Sandwich at the Bakery Depot
Moist shredded chicken between your choice of freshly baked breads.#01-02 Republic Plaza, TEL: +65 6532 6163, www.cedeledepot.com
Meatball Sandwich at Subway
Get it with all the trimmings – sauces, pickles, lettuce and tomatoes.www.subway.sg
Irish Whiskey Salami Sandwich at O’brien’s Irish Sandwich Bars
The full-bodied taste of Irish Whiskey salami with Ballymaloe relish, garlic mayo and pickled gherkin.www.obriens.com.sg
Crab Mayo Sandwich at Delifrance
Rich crab mayo filling works best with soft white bread.www.delifrance.com.sg