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Recipes for sandwiches that are more than fast fuel

The sandwich should more than fast fuel – these glorious, internationally inspired creations are a meal in themselves

When you think how many of us rely on them as a staple food, it is a shame that so many of our sandwiches are so miserable. Thin pieces of bread, processed cheese and fake-tasting meat. People see the sandwich as fuel to tide them over until their next meal rather than as a meal in itself.

The Earl of Sandwich is credited with inventing the sandwich in the 18th century, when he was feeling peckish at the gaming table. Well: he gave it a name.

Yet people have been using bread as a means of transporting food to their mouths for thousands of years.

The most primal British sandwich is probably the carb-tastic chip butty. This can be marvelous, but it’s fun to draw inspiration from exotic variations: the bocadillo of Spain, and the wonderful Vietnamese bánh mì. I’ve had a low-level obsession with the latter since I was 16.

A hangover from French colonial rule, bánh mi are a wonderful collision of Vietnamese and French food. A soft baguette stuffed with coarse spiced pâté, slices of sweet barbecued pork or minced pork and delicious, vinegary pickles. It’s a near perfect dish.

My sardine and chip roll is pretty special as well. Near my restaurant in west London there’s a shop that sells the usual household essentials, but also has a large grill in the front window.

Upon this they create the most exciting sandwich – sardines with garlicky harissa; they throw them on the sizzling surface for just a second before handing them to you in a roll stuffed with chips.

The aubergine sandwich creates a the perfect marriage between mozzarella and smoky grilled aubergine, while my chicken and egg sandwich is a great way of using up leftover chicken or boiled eggs: you really can’t beat the combination of soft-boiled eggs with pickles and capers.

You can also make this one with tuna, or stick to egg for the pure vegetarian version.

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