Monday, May 4, 2009

Tsumami (pinch)-style sakura sandwich tutorial

If you have a package of thin, cheapie lunchmeat (like Carl Buddig brand) and you're strapped for ideas, here's one option.

In my opinion, the prettiest effect is when these petals are anchored in a soft base-- couscous, hummus or guacamole. It's more realistic and you can add something pretty in the middle. But I didn't have any of that available, so I modified the flower to fit on a rye sandwich.

I use a hamburger mold for cutting circular sandwiches. It's the same thickness as a bread slice, it wastes less bread than a biscuit cutter and there's that handy scraper thing to dislodge it afterwards. I'm a big fan of the scraper thing because I don't like trying to dig the bread out.

The other good thing about cutting the bread with the hamburger mold is that it renders a circle that's almost the same size as the lunchmeat. Handy!

Ok, get a slice and spread it out on a flat surface,
like my cutting board here. If it curls, put the curly side downward so it'll be less irritating.

Fold it in half.

Fold the two corner points to the top middle, just as you would a tsumami flower.

Here's the second side folded over. It kind of makes a fan shape.

Flip the fan over so the folded side faces down.

Imagine a center line running from the top point to the bottom of the fan. Fold the edges inward toward that line. They might want to pop back, so you'll have to keep them pinned down with your fingers.

Here's the second corner folded inward.

Turn the petal back right side up. If the middle is puffy, gently curl the outer rim back up with your fingers.

Anchor the petal to the bread with a toothpick. If you were doing this in something soft, all you would need to do is tuck it in at an angle and it would stay put. If you're doing this on a sandwich and the design needs to survive shifting around, you might want to leave the toothpick in until you're ready to eat.

Make four more petals the same way and position them on the sandwich. See the flower coming together? Depending on how cooperative the lunchmeat is being, you might have to use more than one toothpick.

Since the petals aren't anchored into anything and the raw edges need to be covered, the center will need to be weighed down. There are lots of pretty ways to do this. I have a block of cheese, so I'll use that. Other options are zigzag-cut cherry tomatoes or quail eggs.

Here I'm using a gum-paste cutter, which is handy for thin and easily sliceable foods like hardboiled egg white and cheese. Bamboo cocktail forks are really handy for getting the detail-bits dislodged from small cutters without breaking the food apart.

Once you have that, all you have to do is position it in the middle and you're set! If the sandwich will be eaten quickly, the cheese is enough weight to hold the petals in place. If it's going on a trip, as I said, you might want to leave a toothpick in to keep everything together.