Between the Bread
All too often, a sandwich is nothing but a quick fix that we grab on the go or hastily slap together in the morning before work – but there’s no reason why it can’t be a more indulgent treat, too. We asked three sandwich aficionados to share recipes that will make a break from the standard ham and cheese or tuna mayo.
One of our favourite lunch options is the croissant sandwich from Urban Bakery. We were just a month too early for the seasonal hairy crab croissant sandwiches, but Rico Cheng, Urban’s marketing manager and sometimes-chef, created an equally decadent, off-the-menu lobster on buttery brioche buns just for HJ.
Meanwhile, Little Bao’s May Chow showed us how spending four hours cooking her delicious, succulent, Asian-inspired sandwiches can be worthwhile. Her Korean braised short rib bao is reminiscent of Momofuku’s wildly popular pork belly buns, only better. The baos proved to be a runaway hit at their Island East Markets debut last year, and May’s restaurant is expected to open any minute now.
Lastly, Kitty Chan of Frey & Ford, known for its signature petite smorrebrod-esque open sandwiches, whipped up an easy-to-make option: tomato and Parmesan bruschetta. Simple, light and delicious – the healthy snack certainly helped reduce our dietary guilt after our lobster and short rib blow out.
The Sandwich Makers
Rico Cheng, Marketing Manager at Urban Bakery
After graduating in Canada with a degree in economics, Rico returned to Hong Kong to work in finance. But after a year in the industry, his dream of becoming a chef led him to quit his job to enrol in a nine-month programme at Le Cordon Bleu in London. He subsequently trained at Greenhouse and Arbutus in London, and Caprice in Hong Kong. His title might say marketing manager, but he still finds time to create new recipes in Urban’s kitchens.
May Chow, Chef and Restaurateur at Little Bao
May has been working as a chef for seven years, in restaurants such as Bo Innovation, TBLS and Yardbird. Since the baos debuted at Island East Markets last year, they have been spotted at Clockenflap festival, and at events held by Monocle and Nike. She’ll be opening her first restaurant later this month at 66 Staunton Street. Once open, diners can expect more of her Asian-inspired cuisine – dishes that will perfectly complement the bao.
Kitty Chan, Shop Manager at Frey & Ford
Before Kitty joined Frey & Ford, she had worked as an actuary for eight years. Despite not having any formal training in food and beverage, she picked up tricks of the trade when she used to help her parents in their takeaway shop in Sydney. Frey & Ford is a joint venture with friends from Sydney who have also returned to Hong Kong. It opened in 2010, born out of their frustration at the lack of shops that would make fresh sandwiches on the spot.
Urban Bakery's Lobster brioche roll with an olive oil emulsion
Olive oil emulsion:
2 soft-boiled eggs
450 g or 3 lobster tails
10 g chives
10 g tarragon
10 g dill
10 g shallots
zest of lime
juice from half a lime
3 brioche buns
Blend two soft-boiled eggs until smooth. Set aside to cool. Slowly pour in olive oil until you reach a mayonnaise-like viscosity. Cook the lobster tails in boiling water with salt and lime juice for about 3-4 minutes. Roughly chop the lobsters, and toss together with herbs, shallots, lime zest, juice and olive oil emulsion. Spoon filling into brioche buns.
Little Bao's Korean braised short rib bao with homemade pickles, salad and mustard vinaigrette
Sweet soy braised short ribs:
2.5 kg whole short rib, bone in, sinews and excess fat removed. Ask the butcher to cut into mantou-sized pieces
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, grated
20 g ginger, grated
2 pears, grated
30 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
85 ml light soy sauce
22 ml dark soy sauce
13 ml rice wine vinegar
25 g brown sugar
150 g sugar
300 ml vinegar
600 ml water
4 small cucumbers, cut to 3mm slices
1 semi-firm pear, cut to thin sticks
1 red onion, sliced to shreds
2 tbsp salt
1 small clove of garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
6 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 leeks, white only, julienne
10 shiso leaves, finely cut to shreds
5 baby radishes, cut to wafer thin slices
50 g arugula
5 g toasted sesame seeds
10 mantous, steamed according to instructions on the packaging and cut into halves
Blanch short ribs under medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Wash and dry off. Over medium-high heat, add oil and sear the meat until a deep brown colour. Set aside. Over high heat, add onion, ginger, pears, peppercorns, bay leaf, soy sauces, rice wine vinegar and brown sugar to oil. Add meat, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat, braise for three hours until soft. Remove meat, and reduce sauce. To make the pickling juice, bring sugar and water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add vinegar and cool. Sprinkle salt over cucumbers, toss well. Drain excess water in a colander; squeeze to remove remaining water. Place inside a container with a third of the juice, cover with lid. Repeat with red onion. Add remaining juice to the pear in a container, cover with lid. Refrigerate pickles for four hours. Whisk together garlic, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season. Mix together the shiso, radish, leek and arugula. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Drain pickled pear, add to salad, toss well with mustard vinaigrette. Assemble a piece of short rib (bone removed) with salad and pickles between mantou halves.
Frey & Ford's Bruschetta with tomato, basil and Parmesan
1 cup seeded tomatoes, finely chopped
2 tbsp onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp basil, finely chopped
salt and pepper
3 baguette slices
Mix the tomatoes, onion and basil together with a dash of extra virgin olive oil, adding salt and pepper to taste. In an oven or on a pan, lightly toast three slices of white baguette drizzled with olive oil. Add salsa mixture onto baguette slices, and serve with grated Parmesan.