The basic egg salad sandwich has iterations around the world, but it’s generally built from a jumble of cooked, chopped eggs, seasoned and bound with mayonnaise. Freshly made, it’s delicious, and it doesn’t need to be pretty. It seldom is.
But at Konbi, a tiny restaurant in Los Angeles that chefs Akira Akuto and Nick Montgomery run together, the egg salad sandwich is both delicious and alarmingly pretty. It’s become a star on Instagram, with its saturated colors and satisfying symmetry. The egg salad is tucked between slices of super-soft Japanese milk bread, with a soft-boiled egg snug in each piece, revealing the deep orange, jammy yolks like a magic trick.
“A lot of times if you get an egg salad sandwich when you’re out, it doesn’t tend to be very good,” said Montgomery, understating the situation. He and Akuto researched sandwiches in Japan before they opened their restaurant, paying special attention to Tokyo’s convenience stores.
The simple, mass-produced egg salad sandwiches at Lawson, a chain similar to 7-Eleven, were an inspiration.
“They had the yolk in the sandwich, which we thought was really cool and brought more texture, and was visually appealing,” Akuto said.
Creating their own version wasn’t easy.
“You can’t think through all the problems a simple sandwich will present until you’re making 50 to 75 a day,” Akuto said.
To nail the timing, they had to halt the cooking of the eggs at the exact right moment, tossing them quickly from boiling water into ice water. The idea was to produce yolks that would be soft, but never runny, layering the familiar sandwich with more texture and color.
The result is spectacular — brightened with rice wine vinegar, mustard and scallions. But it’s still true to its convenience store roots: The eggs are held together with Kewpie mayonnaise.
KONBI’S EGG SALAD SANDWICH
- 12 large eggs
- Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
- 8 slices milk bread, brioche or white sandwich bread
- Kewpie brand mayonnaise, for spreading on bread
- >> Dressing:
- 1 scallion, very thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon Kewpie mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon creme fraiche
- 1-1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, plus more to spread on bread
- Kosher salt, to taste
Fill a large pot with water, leaving a few inches of space at the top, and bring to a boil over high. Prepare 2 ice baths in 2 medium bowls.
Meanwhile, stir dressing ingredients together in a small bowl; set aside.
Once water reaches a boil, gently add all 12 eggs and let the water return to a boil. As soon as it does so, reduce heat to medium-low and cook the eggs at a gentle simmer for 8 minutes.
Transfer 6 soft-boiled eggs to one ice bath. Continue to cook the remaining 6 eggs until hard-boiled, another 6 minutes, then transfer them to the second ice bath. Let sit, 5 minutes.
Crack all cook eggs by gently hitting shells all over with back of a spoon.
Working directly in the bowl, peel the hard-boiled eggs, keeping them partly immersed (the water helps loosen the shells). Transfer the hard-boiled eggs to a cutting board and chop them into 1/4-inch pieces. Gently fold the chopped eggs into the egg salad dressing using a rubber spatula. Season to taste with kosher salt.
Working directly in the second bowl, carefully peel the soft-boiled eggs. Transfer the peeled eggs to the cutting board and slice them in half lengthwise. The yolks should be creamy but not runny. If the yolks are runny, make another batch of soft-boiled eggs. (You’ll only need 1 soft-boiled egg per sandwich, so snack on any extra or imperfectly peeled pieces with some flaky sea salt, if desired.)
Slather 4 bread slices with mustard on one side.
Sprinkle flaky sea salt on the halved soft-boiled eggs. Arrange 2 halves in the center of each slice of mustard-slathered bread, laying them yolk side down, and positioning them so the narrower tips point outward toward the crust and the wider, rounder portions (with the yolks) are in the middle. Place both halves close enough so that they touch in the center of the bread.
Divide the egg salad among the sandwiches, gently plopping 1/2-cup scoops of egg salad on top of each pair of soft-boiled eggs. Using an offset spatula, spread the egg salad evenly toward the crusts in all directions until bread is covered.
Spread 4 remaining bread slices with mayonnaise on 1 side. Place a slice on top of each sandwich, mayonnaise side down.
Using a serrated knife, carefully slice the crusts off on the left and right sides of each sandwich (the sides parallel to the soft-boiled eggs).
Rotate each sandwich 90 degrees and cut each into thirds, cutting through the eggs and creating a beautiful exposed cross section.
Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 24 hours. Makes 4 whole sandwiches, or a dozen cut pieces.
Nutritional information unavailable.