A Michelin-Starred Chef Shares His Signature Salmon Club Sandwich Recipe
Shaun Hergatt recently opened a vegetable and seafood-focused eatery in Soho called Vestry
A world-class chef who received two Michelin stars for his restaurant SHO and one for Juni (both are now closed), Shaun Hergatt recently opened a vegetable- and seafood-focused eatery within the Dominick Hotel in New York called Vestry.
A native of Australia, Hergatt makes his living on fine dining, but he says his personal favorites tend toward the opposite end of the spectrum, including In-N-Out Burger. “They are on the other side of the country and it’s really hard for me to get them, but In-N-Out Burger is definitely my favorite,” he tells InsideHook. “There’s some lightness and fluffiness to them. You can slam down two of them and still feel solid.”
Another favorite of Hergatt is sandwiches, specifically the club that’s served at the La Réserve De Beaulieu resort in the south of France.
“I can honestly say it’s the best sandwich I’ve ever had in my entire life,” he says. “The recipe was so well measured, I couldn’t believe what I was eating when I had it two years ago. It had such a perfect texture and the flavor profiles were so precise. After I finished the sandwich, I thought about it for the rest of the day and into the next. So I bought another one and ended up buying another sandwich as well. I think it was something crazy like 50 euros, so really expensive. It was so consistent, you could tell that the same person made all three. Whoever that chef is, they’ve been making this for a very long time. I’ve talked to friends of mine who have stayed in that hotel and they agree that this is the most superior sandwich you’ll ever eat in your life.”
That stimulating sandwich was top of mind when Hergatt went about putting together a salmon snack sandwich to serve to guests at Vestry’s bar in NYC.
“It’s about the measurements and the precision of the sandwich,” he says. “If the bread is too thick and the salmon is too thin, it doesn’t taste the same. If the salmon’s too thick and the bread is too thin, it doesn’t taste the same. It’s all about making sure that they’re equal. They have to be really well measured. You want supreme ingredients to start with, but make sure the proportionate sizes of each of the ingredients have to be correct to get that perfect bite.”
Per Hergatt, the perfect bite includes high-quality salmon, super-soft brioche, the perfect dab of mayonnaise and a taste of really fresh shiso leaf. “The thickness of the brioche is the same as the thickness of the salmon. It almost looks like a little piece of cake,” he says. “I’ve gone through stages in my life where I’ve done things that are outrageously creative, but this is something that’s just wholesome. With the softness of the brioche and the texture of the salmon, there’s a certain thing that happens in your mouth that inspires the mind and palette at the same time. We cut it into four little fingers so, whether you’re a lady or a man, you get that perfect mouthful. They’re like little salt soldiers. It’s really a special bite. People have to stop themselves from eating three of them because they’ll kill themselves with salmon.”
Nailing the proportions of the salmon and brioche is crucial, as is using the perfect pair of ingredients to complement them.
“A lot of people will laugh at this, but Kewpie mayonnaise is really what makes the whole sandwich come together,” Hergatt says. “It’s this Japanese mayonnaise made out of soy oil. It’s the gel, it’s the taste, it’s the viscosity and it’s the liquidity. It’s all of that stuff that gets your tastebuds going. It has to be Kewpie. That’s the secret right there. If you use Hellman’s it doesn’t work the same way. I’m also not a big fan of shiso and think it tastes like stink beetles, but it is an essential part of the sandwich. When you cut the leaves, the flavor the essential oils release blends in with all of the flavor profiles very, very well. If you try lettuce or any other sort of green, it’s not the same. You have to use shiso and it has to be super fresh. If you take that ingredient out, the sandwich is not the same.”
It may sound trite, but making a memorable sandwich requires the same high level of quality and consistency that are required to making a Michelin-starred meal, according to Hergatt.
“A great sandwich takes extreme skill. You have to think about it and make sure you are consistently doing the same things to get the product where it needs to be,” he says. “If you change any of the ingredients, again, it’s not the same. We’re talking four things: the mayo, the shiso, the salmon and the brioche. We’ve tried to swap and mix and change, but those four ingredients are the ones that have worked together, found synergy and then married. You can’t take them away or change them and they have to be in that precise measurement.”
Here’s how to put ’em together like a Michelin-starred chef …
Chef Shaun Hergatt’s Salmon Sandwich
Ingredients for the sandwich
- 2 ea Sliced Brioche Bread
- 3 oz Salmon Pavé (same size as brioche)
- 1 tbsp Spicy Sauce
- 4 ea Green Shiso Leaf
- 2 oz Clarified Butter
Ingredients for the spicy sauce
- 250 g Kewpie Mayonnaise
- 20 g Sriracha
- 6 g Sesame Oil
- 10 g Yuzu
- 10 g Lime Juice
- 10 g Light Soy Sauce
- 4 g Salt
Directions for prepping the sauce
- Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and with whisk mix till smooth.
Directions for preparing the sandwich
- Prepare the salmon to meet your preferences before building the sandwich.
- Spread spicy sauce on brioche and top with 2 shiso leaves each.
- Season salmon and place on top shiso leaves.
- Close the sandwich and transfer to a nonstick pan with melted clarified butter.
- Toast the sandwich on both sides until golden brown.
- Once toasted, slice into 4 equal pieces.
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