When Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, author of A Tiger in the Kitchen, invited me to take join fellow bloggers in #LetsLunch, I was excited.
I was even more excited when I heard this month’s theme: High Tea.
Now, English tea time is not really part of my culinary tradition. Of course, my food memories include tea — the Chinese kind. Golden, aromatic oolong, usually poured out of a utilitarian ceramic pot alongside dinner .
I happened to admire some chintz (an all-0ver floral china pattern, as opposed to chintzy, meaning cheap or shoddy) tea cups while at an antique shop with my mother-in-law, who happens to be an antiques dealer, and the rest is history.
Here is my collection of tea cups. Over the years, I’ve accumulated many more — mostly as gifts. Space is limited in my house, so I’ve cycled through the cups as I’ve acquired new ones and grown tired of older patterns. While I love looking at my collection, I rarely actually use them.
As you can see, I am an equal opportunity tea cup collector, with European style china, as well as Japanese ceramic and Taiwanese terracotta tea sets.
Taiwan Meets England
Tea was introduced to England by way of China, right? But it seems like the Asian tea ceremonies and the British tea time have little in common anymore.
One connection I’ve always found curious are the square loaves of white bread sold in Taiwanese bakeries, such as Sheng Kee. They are referred to as English toast or Taiwan toast, and often made into triple decker sandwiches layered with ham, cucumber and egg. The crusts are trimmed off and the sandwiches are cut into triangles, resembling… tea sandwiches.
I described this sandwich to my Facebook friends and asked if anyone knew its origins. My Taiwanese friends and family were stumped. My cousin Lisa suggested that the triple decker “sandwich” might derive from the Mandarin term san ming zi, meaning three layers. But my British friend Jan, commented, “Sounds very English to me.”
While Taiwan has been under the colonial rule of the Portugese and the Dutch, the island has never been under the influence of the British Empire. And strangely, with Hong Kong’s long history under the crown, I’ve never seen this type of English sandwich in a Cantonese bakery.
So the mystery continues… Do you know anything about how the Taiwanese sandwich came about?
Taiwanese Tea Sandwiches
In this variation of the Taiwanese sandwich, I’ve replaced the ham with shredded pork sung (also called pork floss, but I find that name unappetizing), a sweet type of dried pork commonly eaten with rice or bread. I’ve also used Sheng Kee’s wheat and bran version of the Taiwan toast.
- 6 slices Taiwan toast, or other fine grained white bread with the crusts trimmed
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4″ section of English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
- 2 TBS pork sung
- 2 TBS mayonnaise, preferably Kewpie
- Heat a large frying pan and add a scant amount of vegetable oil. Pour the beaten egg into the pan and swirl around to make a large, thin pancake. When the egg begins to set, quickly flip over with a large spatula. Remove the egg as soon as it’s cook to avoid browning.
- Trim the round edges off of the egg pancake into a squarish shape, then cut the square into four smaller squares.
- Assemble the sandwich by spreading mayonnaise on one side of each slice of bread.
- Place two squares of egg on top of the first slice. Sprinkle one tablespoon of pork sung, over the egg, spreading it evenly.
- Place the second slice of bread, mayonnaise side down on top of the pork sung.
- Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the top of the second slice, then layer cucumber slices over it and sprinkle with green onions.
- Place third slice of bread on top of cucumbers and green onions.
- Carefully cut each sandwich into four triangles. Use a sharp knife as the bread can be very soft.
- Repeat steps four through eight for the second sandwich.
Note: Don’t forget to check out the other offerings and check the #LetsLunch tag at Twitter to see many more blogs.
Patrick’s Welsh Rarebit
Cheryl’s Brown Sugar Shortbreads With Hawaiian Jam at Dreaming of Pots and Pans
Linda’s Singapore-Style Ginger Tea & Kaya (Coconut Jam) Toast at Spicebox Travels
Lisa’s Little Lemon Meringue Tarts at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Rebecca’s Millionaire’s Shortbread at Grongar Blog
Steff‘s Lemon-Lime Shortbread Cookies at The Kitchen Trials