No, that’s not a sandwich. Hear me out.
My favorite thing to eat at Tyler Kord’s restaurant, No. 7, are the broccoli tacos. I was hoping the recipe would be here in his first cookbook, but it’s a book about sandwiches so of course they’re not. Luckily, each of the many sandwiches he writes about here have many components, among them all the bits and pieces needed to reserve engineer the tacos, and now, here we are. I am happy.
In case you couldn’t tell, I love this book. It makes me want to get drunk and make out with a line chef. But that would be problematic for my personal life, so I’ll have to settle for these sandwiches instead. And they are good – layered, complex, crunchy salty sweet…he has a matrix in the index for how to put together more of these perfect sandwich combos if you want more of this. Each is perfectly thought through and assembled, despite his claim that he didn’t test them all. He’s a sandwich whisperer; maybe he just knows.
There are many components (some of which can easily be bought at a store, others you’ll have to make from scratch), and they were all great both on their own and in concert. These are involved meals with a lot of steps and pieces, but each sandwich feels like a complete meal – you may eat two in one sitting but you won’t need a side. I rarely used up each component recipe on its attendant sandwich, and had fun using the ends up in different ways. If you hate little jars of things, this isn’t for you and you should downsize the recipes appropriately. My favorite component was a sesame/black bean “hummus” spread, which I finished by itself with a spoon. I also loved the chorizo from Lazaro’s Revenge – it never occurred to me that it was so easy to make, and pre-baking it into sandwich shapes is genius. The pureed vegetable spreads are worth a try, especially if you hate mayo but want something to stick your sandwich together.
But what really makes the book worth your time, even if you hate bread and live on Soylent alone, are the mini-essays populating each recipe, even tiny subrecipes for sauces. Kord covers everything: how he drinks too much, having weird dreams because you ate spicy food late at night (he encourages readers to send their dreams to his email, for “research”), why it’s impossible to run a sandwich shop that charges fairly for ethical food and labor, General Tso’s chicken, rude people who want bags to go with their sandwiches….it’s really all in there. It is not as upsetting as promised, but if you like your recipes to come with only feel-good backstories and noncontroversial opinions you might be better off with Ree Drummond. I also enjoyed the asides and back-and-forths with his editor, mostly because the editor is my favorite food writer, Francis Lam, whose sharp timing is all over this book. They have a nice buddy-comedy dynamic playing out over the pages.
My only nitpick about the book is that all the bread looks delicious and there are no recipes for it. Do they make it themselves or buy it from somewhere? He doesn’t say, which seems like an oversight in a world where we know everything else about him from his feelings on God to his line cook crying in a bathroom about the World Cup. I want some of that bread. But I guess all gurus, both sandwich and spiritual, must disappoint sometimes. How super upsetting of them.
make this one thing:
"Black Bean Hummus"
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1 1/4 cups drained cooked black beans, cooking liquid reserved*
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
*or you can used canned beans, but save the goo from the can (and you might have to add a little water).
In a small saute pan, saute the black sesame seeds over high heat for 2 minutes, or until hot to the touch and very fragrant.
Put the sesame seeds, beans, 1 cup of the bean cooking liquid, lemon juice, tahini, sugar, garlic and salt into a food processor and process until smooth. If you have a fancy blender with a plunger, you could make the hummus in that and it will be much smoother, but who actually has one of those at home? This keeps, in an airtight container in the fridge, for four or five days.
[To build out a taco, add cooked broccoli (I boiled and then sauteed like the Italian I am), feta cheese and fried shallots.]