If you love sandwiches, you should go to Japan – I love Japanese sandwiches! Those uniquely Japanese sandwiches really get my heart racing. Sandwiches like katsu sando: crispy panko breaded pork with tonkotsu sauce and mustard tucked into fluffy slices of crustless bread. Or perfectly simple yet unmistakably good egg salad sandwiches. I even dig a good yakisoba pan: fried noodles stuffed inside a squishy sweet bun. But, if you had to ask, which sandwich is the one that I would fly to Japan for, it would be a strawberry sando.
Yup, a strawberry sandwich. Once strawberry season begins in Japan, you’ll start to see strawberry sandos popping up everywhere: at the convenience store, at the grocery store, in the food halls at department stores, and in the ultra high end fruit parlors. It sounds weird, but really, is it any weirder than a jam sandwich? It’s essentially a fresh jam sandwich with some bonus softly whipped sweetened cream.
Am I getting ahead of myself? Have you guys ever heard of strawberry sandos before? Or fruit sandos? Think: perfectly ripe fruit suspended in barely sweetened whipped cream between two slices of squishy, luscious, almost cake-like milk bread. It’s a sandwich, it’s dessert, it’s both! I don’t know the history of fruit sandwiches – yes, they come in all fruits, not just strawberries – but I do know that they taste good.
They are satisfyingly squishy and sweet and they remind me of all that is good in the world. Like all good things in Japan, you can get them cheap at 7-11 or Lawson’s, or you can get absurdly expensive (I’m talking $20 for a fruit sandwich). Or, if you happen to have a hand flown loaf of one of the most sought after loaves of bread in Japan, you can make your own!
Really though, you don’t have to have special bread from Japan, but it is best if you use shokupan or milk bread. Most Asian bakeries sell it, it’s the perfectly square loaf with the small crumb. The squareness makes it easy to cut the crusts off and the tight crumb means it’s just sturdy enough to support the cream and fruit.
After you have your bread, find the best strawberries you can, whip up some cream with your preferred amount of sugar, and it’s time to sandwich!
A couple of tips
1. Try to picture your sandwich where you will cut it. You want the fruit to be showcased, so it’s best if you think about it a little bit before you start placing. I wanted the cross-sections of the strawberries to peek out and couldn’t quite figure out how to do that so I asked Mike (because he’s the genius visuals dude) to show me how to arrange the berries in such a way that would be aesthetically pleasing. Follow our sando if you like or go rogue – whatever you do, just be sure to picture how the sandwich will look cut.
2. Cut the crusts off first. It might seem like you’d want to cut the crusts off after you made the sandwich so that you get those nice clean lines, but cutting through a strawberry sando isn’t the easiest thing. The cream starts to squish out and you never know if you’ll tear the bread. Just trust me and cut the crusts off first.
3. Chill your sandwich a bit before cutting it. Technically you don’t need to do this but if you want really clean lines, it helps.
4. Use the sharpest, biggest knife you have so you’re slicing through once and not sawing through the sandwich.
That’s it! Hopefully soon you’ll have a strawberry sando right out of your anime dreams.
Japanese Fruit Sandwich: Strawberry Sando Recipe
makes 1 sandwich
- 2 slices of the fluffiest white bread, preferably shokupan
- 1/2-3/4 cup lightly sweetened softly whipped cream
- 6-9 strawberries
Cut the crusts off of the shokupan. Spread out a generous layer of whipped cream on both slices of bread. Top one slice with the strawberries, being sure to align so that when you slice, the strawberries will show.
Place the second slice of bread, cream side down, over the strawberries. Smooth the outside edges, adding extra whipped cream into the spaces, if necessary. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes.
Use a very sharp knife to cut and enjoy!