‘The flavour really bursts out!’ Chefs’ top seafood sandwich recipes
From sole katsu to fried oyster po’ boy, these 10 show-stopping dishes belong in your kitchen just as much as any restaurant. There’s even a very special tuna mayo…
Julie Lin, owner of Julie’s Kopitiam, Glasgow
This prawn open sandwich has stayed in my memory since I ate it in Malmö a few years ago. You need good mayonnaise (enough to coat the shrimp), crisp lettuce, cucumbers, a squeeze of lemon (add some zest too), chopped up big king prawns and, most importantly, dill. Layer on nutty rye bread – no need for butter. Dill elevates this dish to a fresh and fragrant level that marie rose sauce doesn’t quite reach. It’s not traditional, but I also like to add capers. The result is a beautiful, showstopper sandwich, perfect for serving to friends. Pair with a strong black coffee.
Steamed turbot, salsa verde and aioli
John Javier, chef at Bar Flounder, London
This dish is very simple to make. Get a smaller turbot, so that the fillets aren’t too thick, and steam for four to five minutes. Steaming, rather than frying, gives fish like turbot more of a silky, gelatinous “mouth feel”. Make a quick salsa verde using two handfuls of parsley, capers, gherkins, anchovy fillets, red wine vinegar, two cloves of garlic and olive oil. Blend together, then use to dress the steamed fish. Take your brioche bun – I like those from St Pierre – and spread either side with aioli. Add your fish filling, and you’re good to go. Pair with a glass of pét nat.
I was in Istanbul when another chef suggested I try balık ekmek: blackened mackerel in a crusty, buttered, baguette-like roll, with lettuce and a side of pickles. We went down to the river and got one cooked from the side of a fishing boat. It was the whole fillet, with fish hanging over the edges of the bread, and it was just sensational. You could recreate it by cooking lightly seasoned mackerel on a barbecue and pairing it with tiger bread. You can pickle thinly sliced cucumber and onions with a mix of equal parts water, vinegar and sugar – just pour over and marinate for 10 minutes. It’s so simple but the flavour really bursts out.
Tuna mayo with sautéed red onion
Pip Lacey, co-owner of Hicce, London
When I was about 20, I worked at a Zizzi’s where they made tuna mayo crostinis with red onion, and it changed my philosophy towards tuna sandwiches. You sauté the red onions then mix with tinned tuna, mayonnaise, salt and loads of pepper. You can use any bread, just toast it and cover it in butter. I hate cucumber and it always creeps into shop-bought tuna sandwiches. I also love prawn mayo sandwiches: use king prawns and add coriander, they’re a match made in heaven. It’s real nostalgic comfort food.
Crab stick roll
Jackson Berg, co-founder and head chef at Barletta at Turner Contemporary, Margate
This sandwich consists of crab sticks, chipotle mayonnaise and shallots combined in a brioche hotdog bun. You can also cook mussels and add them in too, along with chives and coriander. If you can’t get your hands on chipotle, you can mix Tabasco or harissa with mayonnaise instead. I first made it as a “dirty bar snack” at one of my previous restaurants and it turned out to be a huge crowd-pleaser. It’s best washed down with a black velvet (champagne and Guinness) cocktail.
Rocket, parmesan and anchovies
Leandro Carreira, executive chef at The Sea, The Sea, London
Mash wild rocket and parmesan with a mortar and pestle, as if you are making a pesto, then smear on one slice of sourdough or white bread. Top the other slice with slabs of raw, unpasteurised butter – it’s much more flavourful than regular butter. Then fill your sandwich with anchovies – I recommend “00” Yurrita anchovy fillets, which are salt-cured but not pressed, so they’re still really thick. Conventional anchovies would be too salty and bony. I used at least four – but you can use more – it depends how much you love anchovies. I love the combination of flavours and it’s so easy to put together.
Smoked eel sandwich
Jamie Barnett, head chef at The Castle Inn, Wiltshire
Take two slices of good old-fashioned granary bloomer bread and spread thickly with butter, followed by mayonnaise. Next, mix a tablespoon of creme fraiche with lemon juice, chives, parsley, fresh horseradish and black pepper, keeping it as chunky as possible. Spoon over one slice and top with mustard leaves. Take your eel – I recommend using wood-smoked eel – break it up, using your fingers, and scatter across the bread. Serve with deli-style pickles – the sweet acidity of the pickles cuts through the eel just right – and a nice cold IPA.
Fried oyster po’ boy
Luke Selby, head chef at Evelyn’s Table, London
Fried, breaded seafood sandwiches like this are traditional in Louisiana, but over here the idea of an oyster sandwich is a little bit unusual. I like to use extra-large, good-quality oysters from Dorset. Coat them in flour, followed by egg, then panko breadcrumbs, then shallow fry before tossing in a sweet chilli sauce. Place inside a brioche bun and serve with ribbons of pickled cucumber and wasabi mayo – you can make your own by mixing wasabi and mayonnaise for a creamy sauce that has some heat to it. Serve with a beer.
Sole ‘katsu’ sandwich
Endo Kazutoshi, co-owner and executive chef at Endo at the Rotunda, London
Remove the crusts from two slices of white bread, butter them on both sides and lightly toast. Take dover sole fillets, coat in egg yolk followed by panko breadcrumbs, then shallow fry in oil – not too hot – until golden brown. Add a little tartare sauce and a small drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar to both pieces of bread. Sandwich the sole between the bread and slice in two. Top with very thinly sliced courgette and fennel as well as a drizzle of great-quality honey to serve.
Grilled sardine open sandwich
Tomos Parry, head chef at Brat, London