Filling the gap
Published:  18 January, 2008

Never did I believe I would promote the use of crab sticks as a sandwich filling, but this mixture is so popular as a salad outside the UK, I had to try it.

It is related to egg mayonnaise but is different enough not to compete with it. It can create its own niche. It is refreshing and compulsive eating, with a gentle taste of shellfish. It is obviously better with juicy Greenland prawns or real crab meat. As a sandwich, with multigrain or wholemeal bread, it must be a winner.

Sweetcorn and crab stick filling

Ingredients g %

Canned corn, drained 200g 30

Crab sticks, sliced diagonally 150g 25

Hard boiled egg, chopped 150g 25

Good quality mayonnaise 150g 20

Mix together; if you wish to liven it up a little, add about 50g of crushed capers. Season with salt, pepper and maybe some lemon juice.

Salmon fillings

Why is fresh salmon - or tinned for that matter - seldom featured as a sandwich filler? It is not an expensive fish - not as cheap as tuna, but much more delectable.

Buying pre-cooked salmon is possible, but it is always over-cooked and dry, so canned is preferable. But salmon is also very simple to cook. With the following method, there is no cooking loss and little labour.

Method

1. Place the salmon - be it whole, filleted, large or small - in a good sized pan, fill with cold water covering 4cm above the salmon.

2. Season, if you wish, and add some lemon juice. On a low heat, bring the water slowly to just below boiling point - 95ºC to 98ºC.

3. Remove from the heat and allow it to go cold in the water. This will achieve perfectly cooked, succulent, juicy salmon.

4. Flake this and mix with your favourite salad cream or mayonnaise or try this as an alternative:

Ingredients %

Good mayonnaise 100

Whipping cream 30

Rose's lime or orange cordial and shreds of the zest of the chosen fruit 10

When filling into your sandwiches include some shredded crispy iceberg lettuce or rocket.

Chicken-based fillings

For all the fillings below you need some pre-cooked succulent chicken meat. Some suppliers will cook it to your instructions, but if you want something really good, cook whole birds in a bag.

Strip the meat from the birds. The bones, cooking juices and trimmings can be used to make stock to enhance the flavour and succulence of your chicken pies. Blend the stripped meat with the following sauces - I suggest 50/50 but it is according to taste:

Chicken in satay sauce

The original base for this is the addictive, mouth-watering Indonesian chicken satay. Try this variation for a sandwich filling, perhaps with a light rye or a soft tender wholemeal bap and crispy iceberg or Cos lettuce. Try this small quantity first:

Ingredients g/ml

Chopped onion 200g

Vegetable oil 30g

Ground cumin 5g

Turmeric 5g

Ground coriander 10g

Chilli powder 5g or to taste

Lemon juice 20ml

Sugar 5ml

Peanut butter 150g

Coconut milk or single cream 200g

Soy sauce 20g

Salt to taste

Method

1. Soften the onion in the oil. Add all the other ingredients and mix together over a low heat until the sauce is homogenous and about the thickness of double cream.

2. Leave to cool and, when cold, adjust the flavour to your taste and blend with chicken meat.

Variation: Instead of the four spices, a mild garam masala or a korma paste would suit. It is also possible to buy satay sauce. Also, for an Indian variant, tandoori chicken is a well-established and popular filling, so why not try chicken korma?

Wrap fillings

To my mind, the best wrap is a soft flour tortilla. The best fill is an authentic Burrito recipe. I admit to never having made this in commercial quantities, so please try it at home first.

Burritos

Ingredients Amount

Chicken breasts (skinned and boned) 2

Green pepper 1

Onion 1

Garlic clove 1

Tomato juice 150ml

Can red kidney beans (drained) 1

Cumin pinch

Salt pinch

Large flour tortillas 4

Low-fat mozzarella cheese, grated ½ cup

Method

1. Dice the chicken, pepper, onion and garlic. Mix with the tomato juice and simmer at a medium to low temperature in a cooking pot.

2. When the cooking juice has almost evaporated, add the kidney beans, ground cumin and salt to taste. Divide this mixture into four and fill each tortilla, then add the cheese before rolling it up.

Variation: Another great fill for wraps is chilli con carne - perhaps without the red beans. It even eats well cold. Both are great with sour cream or creamy yoghurt.

Meat-based fillings

Basic recipe dishes, with the meat content in smaller pieces, can be used in a chosen carrier. Some bakers serve hot sandwiches, using a bap or similar as a carrier and they are delicious. Roast pork with sage and onion stuffing is a good example. Roast your pork in a bag - this makes it soft and succulent - and use the juices in the stuffing. For the sandwiches, offer some good apple sauce or some sweet grain mustard. This is a sandwich to dream about and is almost as good made cold. n




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