Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cucumber Sandwiches

I was having this terrible craving for cucumber sandwiches which I suspect was triggered off by my brunch at TWG (insanely expensive for the stuff you're getting - wonder if I'll ever do it again?) as well as a colleague talking about birthday brunch at somewhere lovely with not one but TWO kinds of cucumber sandwiches...

I was in dire need of a cucumber sandwich yesterday so I had to occupy my mind by finding out more of this very humble sandwich (which doesn't have very humble origins) on Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, it's a sandwich for the high class British people who had lots of time to eat (cos they didn't have to work) and thus they will have a very 'light' and un-nutritious cucumber sandwich for tea, as opposed to someone who had to work hard and needed something heavy and more substantial for manual workers.

Of course, I also went to check out many sites on cucumber sandwich recipes (I was wondering if I had to pickle the cucumbers actually...) and I think one of the better sites is here (it's quite an entertaining read even if you don't really want to find out how to make cucumber sandwiches). I decided to pickle my cucumbers so I placed them in a rice vinegar water bath (it's supposed to be cider but I didn't have that at home and I suppose something acidic will do) along with a spoonful of sugar and a dash of salt. I'm using Japanese cucumbers (the local variety looks too soggy and looks as if they will fail me on my cucumber sandwich mission) so I had the slim dainty Japenese strain (which were grown in Malaysia so it's still cheap).

I suppose you can have them fresh and unpickled but I just wanted to try pickling them cos it sounded like they would taste crunchier and nicer... Btw, I used a fruit peeler to get them into really thin slices - my kitchen knife skills are lousy ++ though I must admit that the strips were way too thin and didn't have enough crunch.After taking a bath(yay for post calls!) and letting my cucumbers soak in the water bath, it's time to dry them off using paper towels. According to the Paupered chef, it's importent to get rid of as much moisture as possible so your bread doesn't become soggy.
Prior to putting the cucumbers on the bread, it's important to spread butter/cream cheese (or one on each side of the bread as I did) over the entire surface of the bread in contact with the cucumber so that it will act as a barrier cream does on skin and the bread wont soak up the juices and become wet.
Arrange the cucumbers into neat little strips (just being OCD here it's not necessary at all) but it's important to try to get the same thickness throughout the bread...
For me, the cucumber sandwich wasn't interesting enough so I decided to make a cucumber smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich. I must admit that it's much harder than it looks and I was in danger of leaving my finger marks everywhere on the bread (it's the Gardenia bread with blue colour packaging)
Of course, I don't think it's worth the effort in making it again myself, but I did teach my maid how to make them. Next time I need a cucumber sandwich, I will get myself a cup of tea to go along with it :D

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