During my recent trip to Norway and Denmark, I discover the Scandinavians consume a lot of open-faced sandwiches for their lunches. One of the Danish cafés, Aamanns, that I visited specialises in open-faced sandwiches or what the Danish called smørrebrød. They simply take a plain piece of rye bread and pimp it up by topping it with seasonal produce and make it delicious. The combination of the fillings is genius yet uncomplicated. It makes me realise that sandwiches do not need to be a slap of butter, salad, tomatoes, cheese and ham – it can be a lot more if you put your thinking hat on.
While I was reading Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday (which by the way is a very good cookbook), she had a recipe for an open-faced egg sandwich which was no frills and classic. Most importantly, making this sandwich requires ingredients that are found in almost every household – bread, egg and yoghurt. I decide to play around with the recipe and add a Middle Eastern twist to it. It is a tad bit more effort but this is not your boring, ordinary egg sandwich. You will be amazed how playing around with a few ingredients can produce a simple yet delicious meal. You can pack the ingredients separately and bring them to the office. When you open your lunch box, you will be the envy of your colleagues.
Open-face egg sandwich
(Inspired by Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day)
If you plan to bring this sandwich to the office, I would suggest that you pack the bread, salad and the eggs separately (and remember to refrigerate them (except the bread)) and assemble them just before eating. You do not need to follow the recipe very strictly, just make the sandwich in accordance to what you have in your fridge or pantry.
Garlic when eaten raw can be sharp and overpowering. When you slow roast them for a period of time, the flavour becomes mellow, nutty and sweet (it is so mellow that you can actually eat it on its own without the fear of garlic breath). The portion that I suggested is more than what you need for the sandwich. Any unused roasted garlic can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days and used in pasta, eaten with roast chicken and so on.
1 bulb of garlic
Preheat the oven to 180oC.
Using a knife, cut off ½”of the top of the garlic bulb, exposing the cloves of garlic. There is no need to peel the garlic.
Place the exposed garlic on a piece of aluminum foil – make sure the foil is large enough to wrap the garlic. Drizzle a bit of olive oil onto the top of the exposed garlic. Wrap the oiled garlic loosely in a bundle and place it on a baking tray.
Place the baking tray in the oven and bake the garlic for 45-60 minutes (depending on the size of your garlic bulb).
Once the garlic is roasted, remove from oven and let it cool for 15 minutes (there is no need to unwrap). Once cool, it is ready to be used. The finished roasted garlic should be soft and tender.
Open-face egg sandwich
4 thin slices of bread (I prefer rye bread, but you can use any wholegrain or whole wheat bread. I would strongly urge you not to use white bread as texturally it does not go well with the eggs)
4 large eggs (54g-56g)*
2 tbs unsweetened yoghurt (if you do not have yoghurt, you can substitute with mayonnaise).
Salad leaves or alfalfa sprout
Roasted garlic (if you are too lazy to make the roasted garlic, you can use mustard or butter as the spread)
Gently wash the eggs with water, removing any dirt. Please note that once you wash the eggs, you must use them immediately. Washing eggs removes the micro membrane that protects them from bacteria.
Place the cleaned eggs in a small saucepan and fill it with cold water, covering at least 1” of the top of the eggs. We start with cold water to ensure even cooking of the eggs. If you drop the eggs in a pot of hot water, the temperature of the water will drop and leaves the egg with a tough outside and a runny inside.
Place the saucepan over a medium heat, uncovered. Once the eggs start to rattle against the base of the saucepan (you will also see bubbles forming around the eggs. This takes around 5 minutes), remove the saucepan from the heat and cover it. Let the residual heat cook the eggs for 8 minutes. If you are using extra-large eggs, it will take around 11-12 minutes. You will end up with hard boiled eggs with a runny centre. If you prefer the yolks to be more cooked, let the eggs stay in the hot water for 2 more minutes**.
While the eggs are cooking, standby a bowl of iced water which will be used to cool the cooked eggs.
Toast the bread until golden brown and crisp (you can toast the bread using your oven or toaster). Using a teaspoon, scoop out a clove of the roasted garlic and place it on the toasted bread. Using the back of the teaspoon, spread the roasted garlic on the bread. If you are using sandwich loaf, you might need to use one more clove of roasted garlic. Repeat for the rest of the sliced toasted bread. Set aside.
Once the eggs are cooked, drain and place them in the bowl of iced water to cool for 1-2 minutes. Once cooled, peel the eggs and place them in a bowl.
In the bowl (with eggs), add in the yoghurt and a pinch of salt. Using a fork, mash the eggs and yoghurt. Do not mash the eggs into a pulp – you still want to have a bit of texture. Taste and add in more salt or yoghurt if needed.
To assemble, place a bit of salad leaves or alfalfa sprout on the garlic toast, follow by the mashed egg. To finish, sprinkle a bit of sumac. Sumac is a lemony, citrusy spice which will brighten any dish. If you do not have or cannot find sumac, you can sprinkle a bit of crushed black pepper.
*It is preferred NOT to use fresh eggs for this recipe. The eggs should ideally be at least 3 days old (hence this is great for clearing those sad looking eggs in your fridge). When we hard boil fresh eggs, it is quite difficult to peel the eggs. If you only have fresh eggs, you can add a bit of vinegar or baking soda when boiling the eggs. This should make the peeling of the eggs easier.
**It is very tempting to just leave the eggs in the saucepan and forget about them (afterall they are meant to be hard boiled). You know you have destroyed basically all of the flavour in the egg when you get a grey outline on the yolk and the inside is powdery. So don’t forget about the eggs.