Let’s Lunch! High Tea with Taiwanese Sandwiches

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 .

English and Asian teacup collection
As a young adult, I became enamored with English tea time and it’s accoutrements: the delicate bone china, the teacozies, and the dainty finger sandwiches. The idea of putting milk and sugar into tea seemed ludicrous when I had only known oolong and green brews, but once I was introduced to my favorite black tea, Earl Grey, adding milk and sugar made perfect sense.

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 sandwich

High Tea, by way of Taiwan

 

 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.

Ingredients:

  • 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
Directions:
  1. 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.
  2. Trim the round edges off of the egg pancake into a squarish shape, then cut the square into four smaller squares.
  3. Assemble the sandwich by spreading mayonnaise on one side of each slice of bread.
  4. Place two squares of egg on top of the first slice. Sprinkle one tablespoon of pork sung, over the egg, spreading it evenly.
  5. Place the second slice of bread, mayonnaise side down on top of the pork sung.
  6. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the top of the second slice, then layer cucumber slices over it and sprinkle with green onions.
  7. Place third slice of bread on top of cucumbers and green onions.
  8. Carefully cut each sandwich into four triangles. Use a sharp knife as the bread can be very soft.
  9. Repeat steps four through eight for the second sandwich.
Enjoy!

 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

Comments

  1. says

    Grace, I envy your teacup collection! The sandwiches look great. As a fellow Taiwanese I also don’t know the origin of these sandwiches, except that I’ve also seen them in Tokyo– maybe they came via Japan? The mystery continues…

  2. Pragmaticmom says

    Yum!! Tea time at your house looks insanely delicious. You might need to write a cookbook for the rest of us!!

  3. says

    I love eating pork floss (sorry that’s what I call it!) in a sandwich. Ham sandwiches and cucumber sandwiches are very common in England and in its former colonies (i.e. Singapore) so maybe a Taiwanese just decided to stack them up into a triple decker sandwich :). Will have to join you for #letslunch sometime :)

  4. says

    Welcome to lets lunch. I was very tardy this time, but finally got mine posted as well. I love your tea cup collection. I have a few from an older friend who lived in London many years ago. They are so colorful. The sandwich looks SO good and love the idea of pork in there. Wonderful post :D

  5. says

    Welcome to the group! I’m fascinated by this sandwich and the Taiwanese tea tradition. I have definitely seen cucumber sandwiches and egg sandwiches but would have never considered combining them. Quite genius!

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