Posted by Stephanie Simpson on
On our second day in Australia, my travelling companion and I spent the morning gathering food. We would be boarding a train that would leave Sydney at 11AM and wind its way north along the coast and through the hills, arriving at his parents’ place seven hours and two meals later. Snacks were necessary.
So we loaded our bags up with almond pastries and produce – miniature bananas and knobbly custard apples – from Sydney’s China Town, making our final stop at a dark coffee shop next to the train station to pick up sandwiches.
My travelling companion, an Australian himself, went confidently off-menu, asking the man behind the counter for a “curried egg and salad” – Australian for “an egg salad sandwich with curry powder and vegetables”, he explained to me.
The man nodded, mashing a boiled egg with curried mayonnaise and piling our sandwiches high with grated carrots and pickled beets. Unusual, I thought, but neither my travelling companion nor the man seemed phased. He then named his price – a slowly-calculated but seemingly arbitrary number that was twice as much as anything advertised on the sandwich board. Again, unusual, but again, both were unphased, and so I gave the sandwich little additional thought except to conclude that the pickled beets were indeed a tasty addition.
A few days later, my travelling companion and I hopped in a car and headed on a trip around the southeast corner of the country. We followed the road over mountains and through valleys and, eventually, down the main street of country town after country town, where we would stop to stretch our legs and reward our sedentary morning in the car with lunch at the local bakery.
And there, we found the sandwich. Sort of. We never saw it listed on the menu, but the independent offerings of just curried egg and just salad told us that it could be created. And when we asked, it was made, again without confusion and with a quietly calculated price. Always on soft bread baked in-house that day, and always with grated carrot and pickled beet alongside veggies I’m more accustomed to seeing on sandwiches, like lettuce and tomato.
And so, by accident, one of the foods I’ve come to associate most strongly with Australia is the “curried egg and salad”. I made one yesterday, here in Edmonton, pickled beets and all. And with the first bite of beety sourness mingling with carrot and egg, I felt like I was on the other side of the world. Odd, yes. But tasty too.
Australian Egg & Salad Sandwich
Makes enough for 2 sandwiches
NOTE: This is simply a sandwich, so don’t get too hung up on following the instructions below. Your bread and veggies are likely to be different sizes than mine, your spices may be more or less intense, and so on. So let your tastebuds and your sandwich-making intuition take the front seat here and think of the instructions below simply as suggestions.
3 eggs, preferably organic
1.5 tbsp plain yogurt
3/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely grated
half a tomato, sliced 1 cm thick
1-2 pickled beets, sliced 1 cm thick
6-8 slices of cucumber, sliced 1 cm thick
2-4 leaves of green lettuce
1. Hard boil your eggs: Place the eggs in a high-sided pot and fill with enough cold water to cover the eggs by one inch. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. As soon as it boils, remove the pot from the heat, cover and let sit for 12 minutes. Next, drain the pot and refill it with enough cold water to cover the eggs again. Now, using the blunt side of a knife, gently tap the sides of the eggs to break their shells. Let them cracked eggs sit in the cool water for 7 minutes before peeling.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the yogurt, curry powder, salt and pepper. Add in your peeled eggs and mash them with a fork until they’ve crumbled into little cubes and are evenly coated with the curried yogurt.
3. Now assemble your tasty sandwiches: Butter two slices of bread, then divide your toppings – the egg mixture, grated carrot, tomato slices, beet slices, cucumber slices and lettuce leaves – evenly over each piece of buttered bread. Top each sandwich with another slice of bread (butter optional on this slice). Cut, eat, repeat.