But in recent years, I’ve noticed the humble egg salad sandwich grow in popularity on the internet, mostly thanks to the Japanese version, the Tamago Sando. This riff on the original features a hard or soft boiled egg added into the egg salad between two slices of soft white bread (a Tamago Sando is a pretty straightforward egg salad, otherwise).
To me, burying an egg in egg salad has always sort of felt like putting a hat on a hat while making an already messy deli stalwart even messier. Still … I was willing to give it a try.
Before stepping into the kitchen, I called up a Japanese chef who I used to party with (in the before times) and asked him the ins and outs. His biggest tip was to cool the egg salad as much as possible to make it more solid in the sandwich. The rest was straightforward advice for a really good egg salad: soft milk bread, a little sharp mustard in the mix, shallots, white pepper not black, etc.
We’re talking about deli salad here, not rocket science.
After our call, I was still incredulous that this eggy Instagram favorite would improve on the original, but I was willing to try. Here’s how it went down.
Egg Salad Sandwich/Tamago Sando
What You’ll Need in the Kitchen:
- Medium pot
- Large spoon
- Cutting board
- Kitchen knife
- Mixing bowl
- Sandwich-size Tupperware
- 6 large eggs
- Lemon thyme
- 1/4 cup mayo
- 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard or similar
- White pepper
- Soft white bread
If you want a nice and orange egg yolk, buy fresh eggs. If you want an egg that’s super easy to peel once boiled, buy fresh eggs. I added a little lemon thyme to this mix as it just made sense to bring a herbal note that also had a subtle citrus edge — something to cut through the richness of the egg salad.
Also, when I went shopping, I thought I still had a bottle of Kewpie mayo on the shelf. Turns out that was a bottle of Hellmann’s. In these times, it’s way too much effort to go back to a grocery store for one item. Hellmann’s it is! (Though Japanese-made Kewpie would have been ideal.)
As for the bread, I used this really soft Italian sandwich bread that you get in sandwich shops in Italy. It’s really, really close to the soft milk bread most sando joints use and makes for a great egg salad sammie in general.
Time to boil some eggs. First, I boil six eggs for 9 minutes. I remove them from the boiling pot of water when the timer goes off and place them into a basin of cold water to cool and stop cooking.
Next, I boil two more eggs for six minutes. Again, when the timer goes off, I transfer the eggs to a basin of cold water to stop the cooking and cool.
I then peel all the eggs, making sure to keep the longer boiled eggs separate from the shorter boiled ones. Next, I place them all in the fridge to cool through completely (maybe an hour).
Let’s make some egg salad. I do a pretty rough dice on the six eggs. Basically, I’m slicing the egg in half length-wise. Then I slice those halves into thirds length-wise. Finally, I chop those thirds up.
Next, I dice one shallot. I also de-stem about four sprigs of fresh lemon thyme.
In a medium mixing bowl, I add in the eggs, mayo, mustard, white pepper, a pinch of salt, the shallots, and the thyme. I use a standard spoon to mix the whole thing.
Once the yolk emulsifies with the mayo and mustard, you’re there. It should be very creamy and rich. Give the salad a taste and adjust for salt and pepper if needed. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes or some diced chilis if you want heat.
I then cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for about two hours to cool completely.
It’s time to build our sandwich!
I know this is going to be a mess. So, I’m using a sandwich form. It’s really just a Tupperware lunch box that fits sandwiches and a snack. I figure the extra space for the snack will give me some room to actually scoop out the sandwich and plate it.
I build the sandwich by placing the slice of bread in first. I then scoop in a half-inch or so layer of egg salad.
Next, I cut my eggs in half and give a pinch of salt to the yolk — a very small one. I then nestle the eggs into the egg salad, yolk side up.
Lastly, I place the slice of bread over it all and slice it down the middle, trying my best to hit the center of the intact yolks.
I then use the handle of the spoon to lift out the sandwich halves and plate them.
Yup, that looks like a Tamago Sando. Though I have to say… it’s very obvious I am not an IG food stylist.
Alright, it’s time to tuck in. I bit into the first half and it’s … okay. The egg salad is very rich, creamy, sharp, and eggy. Exactly what you want in an egg salad. But then the boiled egg comes in and takes away all that edge. It really mutes everything.
Then, of course, there’s the slippage I was worried about.
Yeah, the majority of the egg salad slipped out of this sandwich. Each bite on the boiled egg just pushed out more and more egg salad. I’ve seen these made neater with drier egg salad, but who wants that?
Maybe if I had wrapped the sandwich it would have held together a bit better? In the end, I was mostly eating a boiled egg sandwich with a really yolky mayo on it. Which was okay, I guess. I will assuredly use about half the amount of egg salad next time… if there is a next time.
Overall, this sandwich looks a lot better than it tastes. I’m fine with a sandwich being messy. But the boiled egg takes away much more than it adds. One year from now, when I actually think about egg salad again, I’ll probably skip adding the boiled egg.
Unless I become a famous food influencer between now and then.