Sandwiches are a widely popular type of food, typically to be eaten as part of a packed lunch. The bread can be eaten plain, or it can be coated with one or more condiments to enhance the flavour and texture. As well as being homemade, sandwiches are also widely sold in restaurants and cafés, and are sometimes served hot as well as cold.
As I have travelled more, I have began to understand the local cuisines a bit better, and I have discovered 13 of my favourite sandwich/bun snacks from around the world, and they are listed below.
I always enjoy eating Kaya Toast when I am lucky enough to be in Singapore. In south east Asia, sandwiches are usually found to be toasted (rather than cold), and the kaya toast concept has been around in this part of the world for a long time.
The Chapati is a flatbread originating from India, although it is a common staple among South Asian expatriates throughout the world. It is made from wholewheat flour and, unlike Naan Bread, which is used more for dipping into sauces, chapatis are used for rolling ingredients (sometimes including sauces) and biting off as much as one can chew!
Croque Monsieur is a fried ham and cheese sandwich that is phenomenally popular in France. Traditionally made with Brioche-like bread pieces but with a soft crust, it is then topped with grated cheese, and slightly salted and peppered. The bread is grilled beforehand and then dipped in whipped eggs, after which the whole sandwich is finally fried, so the cheese can melt over the bread’s edges.
Katsu Sando is one of my absolute favourite sandwiches from around the world, and is always a great choice for a snack when in Japan! The deep-fried pork (tonkatsu) is simply used a sandwich filling between two pieces of standard white bread. The whole thing sounds so simple, but believe me the tastes are amazing!
Usually filled to the brim with curry, the Bunny Chow is from South Africa, although it was actually Indians who brought the idea over from the sub-continent – hence the curry filling! Traditionally, the lamb or mutton curries would be the only kind of filling, although nowadays, as the bunny chow is known more as a fast food sandwich, it can be filled with anything from raw vegetables to potato chips!
The Banh Mi is the breadstuff most commonly found in Vietnam and has a thinner crust when compared to baguettes in western countries. Typical fillings include duck, pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, grilled pork, grilled chicken, fried eggs, and tofu. Vegetables are added afterwards to complete the sandwich.
A major delicacy of northern China, Shaobing is a type of baked flatbread that can be eaten with or without a filling – however it wouldn’t be a real sandwich without something inside, and in China red bean paste, stir-fried mung beans, egg, tofu, and braised beef are prized fillings!
Francesinha is of course the national sandwich of Portugal! It is commonly filled with wet-cured ham, fresh sausage like chipolata, and covered with melted cheese and a thick tomato and beer sauce! It sounds too good to be true!
A vegetarian snack, the Vada Pav literally means “potato bun”, and was invented in Mumbai, India. It is a well known fact that Mumbai is the capital of street food on the sub-continent, and the vada pav is eaten daily by many residents of the city. The potato fritter is placed inside the bread roll (instead of, say, a beef burger) and is usually topped with chutney – along with the obligatory spices!
I have always had a soft spot for the Gua Bao from Taiwan. I fell in love with the shape and texture the first time I saw them in Taipei’s night markets! This awesome street food is like the traditional burger baps from western culture, but they are steamed and remain open at the side, which is where you fill it up with meats and sauces aplenty! Usually, slices of pork belly are known to fill the gua bao, and as such, these sandwiches are known locally as “tiger eats pig” due to the shape of the bao being like a tiger’s mouth, and the traditional filling being pork! So cool!
One of the most unique kind of sandwich is the Balik Ekmek from Istanbul. It is eaten all over Turkey, and basically it is a fish sandwich. Usually, the fish are caught fresh from the Bosphorus (supposedly) and cooked while you wait – and a lot of these fast foods stalls are actually on boats on the water! Just slap the grilled fish into the baguette, add some onion and salad, and hey presto – dinner is served!
A Roti John is essentially an omelette sandwich and is a very popular breakfast snack in Malaysia. The ingredients include minced meat (chicken or mutton), onion, egg, tomato-chilli sauce, and a baguette-type loaf.
An American speciality and named after a comic book character, the Dagwood is a tall, multi-layered sandwich made with a variety of meats, cheeses, and condiments. An olive pierced by a toothpick or wooden skewer usually crowns the edible structure. I have enjoyed more than a few of these impossibly tall sandwiches when travelling and the calories keep me going for the whole day!
Which of these regional variations of the “sandwich” takes your fancy? Ever tried any of these before?