This should come as no surprise, but Americans have no idea how to make an egg salad sandwich. I read a story on Irish Central about how the Irish do it, and I have to say, they totally win at “Who Makes The Best Egg Salad Sandwiches,” which, today, is a real game. The Irish salad sandwich, also called egg and onion or egg and tomato, is a wonderfully balanced ratio of the traditional boiled eggs, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, mixed with chopped scallions and tomatoes and topped with lettuce.
The tomato adds acid and juiciness, the scallion adds much-welcome zing and snap and the lettuce provides a textural contrast to the smooth mashed egg. It’s breathtaking in its flawless simplicity.
“I’ll never forget my first American work day lunch at the hospital canteen in Elmira, New York,” writes the story’s author, Mairéad Geary. “I ordered a sandwich at the deli counter, expecting a one-inch high Irish sandwich, only to be astounded by the door-step size mountain that appeared before me. I don’t think I finished a quarter of that sandwich. I quickly learned to order a half sandwich for lunch in the hospital canteen.”
If you have to order half, the sandwich in question is undeniably too big. It’s like “Too Much Tuna,” but with egg salad — even worse. What’s going to happen when you bite into one of those is not delicious satisfaction but the slow mushing-out of your sandwich filling, requiring messy nudging. That’s the reason people vilify egg salad as a smelly, unpopular option and miss out on what a great egg salad sandwich can truly be because nobody wants quite that much of it. WHY do we overstuff egg salad sandwiches? It’s like we’re trying to ruin their lives, as well as the lives of their descendants, salting and burning the earth behind us with whispers of fart smells and — gasp — the allegation of one being too lazy to make “a real sandwich.” How many people love these sandwiches in secret, so nobody has to be subjected to their perceived grossness?
With that in mind, here’s how you make an Irish salad sandwich, according to Geary. Note the ratio and incorporation of produce to eggs.
- 4 slices of sandwich bread
- 1 to 2 ounces of butter to spread on bread
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 1 Roma tomato or 2 small petite tomatoes
- 2 green onions or scallions
- 2 leaves of butter lettuce
- 1/8 cup of mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper
Chop the scallions, tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs, and shred the lettuce. Spread the butter on the bread. Mix the veggies (except for the lettuce) with the chopped eggs, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Spread the filling over the buttered bread to make a sandwich, slice off the crusts, cut into triangles and serve with fries or salad.
Oh, the Irish salad sandwich is just one of those hoity-toity British tea snacks to be eaten while flourishing one’s pinky, you say? It is nothing of the sort. It is the solution to all egg salad-related woes, the solution to the problem of egg salad ranking close to the bottom of favorite sandwiches list and a damn fine option for lunch, so leave hoity and toity at the door and dig into a lunch so flavorful and satisfying, you won’t even notice it’s vegetarian. Or add bacon, whatever. Baby steps, right?