Sunday, December 11, 2011

Snacking State-by-State: Missouri III - Meet Me in St. Paul, Louie!

Whenever I look at Midwestern states, I keep on finding strange (to me) sandwiches: Horseshoe sandwiches from Illinois.  Breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches from Indiana.  Loosemeats from Iowa.  Coney Island dogs from Michigan.  And though they aren't sandwiches, there was enough in the way of bread from Kansas (honey sunflower) and Minnesota (wild rice frybread).  So why not continue the trend with perhaps one of the stranger sandwiches I've read about in a long time.

Official Name: State of Missouri
State Nicknames: The Show-Me State
Admission to the US: August 10, 1821 (#24)
Capital: Jefferson City (15th largest)
Other Important Cities: Kansas City (largest), St. Louis (2nd largest), Springfield (3rd largest), Independence (4th largest)
 Midwest, South; Wet North Central (US Census)
RAFT NationsCorn Bread & BBQBison
Bordered by:
  Iowa (north); Illinois and the Mississippi River (east); Kentucky and Tennessee (southeast); Arkansas (south); Oklahoma (southwest); Kansas (west); Nebraska (northwest)
Official State Foods and Edible Things: Eastern black walnut (tree nut); channel catfish (fish); Norton/Cynthiana grape (grape); bobwhite quail (game bird); crayfish (invertebrate)
Some Famous and Typical Foods: Midwestern and German foods to the north, Southern and Ozark foods to the South and in the center of the state; Kansas City BBQ (sweet BBQ sauce, with dry rub before barbecuing), gooey butter cake

The St. Paul sandwich is found - of course - in St. Louis, and nowhere else.  It is not only unique among Midwestern sandwiches, but unique among Chinese restaurant dishes.  For you see, the St. Paul sandwich is an egg fu yung pancake between two slices of bread, with tomato, lettuce and onion slices, dill pickles and mayonnaise.  Jennifer 8. Lee, that authority on all things related to Americanized Chinese food (NB: her book The Fortune Cookie Chronicles) notes on her blog what one reader told her about it:
According to local legend, the St. Paul Sandwich was named by Steven Yuen at Park Chop Suey in St. Louis for his home town of St. Paul. It’s considered a fast food snack that is really cheap < $2. [Lee 2009]
She also notes that it isn't "as crunchy as the chow mein sandwich" [Lee 2009], but I should have done that one back when I was looking at Massachusetts.

The Recipe: St. Paul Sandwich

If you want to make the egg fu yung yourself, there are many recipes out there: pork, chicken, shrimp, beef, vegetarian, combinations thereof (this St. Paul sandwich recipe from STLToday makes a nice one with shrimp, chicken and beef).  Just follow whichever recipe you choose but ignore the sauce.  Or if you don't have the time or the energy to make your own egg fu yung just go to your local Chinese take out and buy some.

In addition to the egg fu yung you will need:

* two slices of white bread
* mayonnaise
* lettuce (most use iceberg but I'm no fan, so I used some of the tastier variety from the bulk lettuce at the supermarket)
* tomato and onion
* pickle chips (normally dill, but I used some of those pickles I made way back in my Kansas pickle post)

The sandwich is simple: start with lettuce and slices of tomato (mine was Roma).

Add onion slices.

Then add your pickles and mayonnaise.

And finally the egg fu yung.

How to describe this unusual little sandwich?  One person said it was surprisingly heavenly: the most unusual fried egg sandwich.  My egg fu yung was fresh from the Chinese restaurant, but I could not really describe it as crispy.  But it was certainly a substantial sandwich, and a most unusual way to eat egg fu yung.  It's a pretty easy sandwich, but if I want my fried food crispy I guess I'll just have to fry it myself.  I did get a nice crunch from the onion though.


Adams, Marcia. Heartland: The Best of the Old and the New from Midwest Kitchens. Clarkson Potter: New York, 1991.

Bittman, Mark.  "For a Smoky Taste in Oven Ribs".  The New York Times website.  Published: December 4, 2009.

Goldwyn, Craig "Meathead".  "A taxonomy of American barbecue sauces".  Amazing Ribs website.  Last revised September 12, 2011.

Lee, Jennifer 8. "St. Paul Sandwiches (in St. Louis), Made with Egg Foo Young Patties".  The Fortune Cookie Chronicles website.  Published April 8, 2009.

"noahw" ( user).  "Oven Smoked Ribs". website.  Copyright 2011.

Oland, Sydney.  "Sunday Brunch: St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake".  Serious Eats website.  Published May 28, 2011.

Raichlen, Steve.  How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques.  Workman Publishing: New York, 2001.

STLToday.  "St. Paul Sandwich (Fortune Express)".  STLToday website.  Published August 17, 2011.

Stradley, Linda. "Gooey Butter Cake". What's Cooking America website.  Copyright 2004.

Some information also obtained from Wikipedia's "Missouri" page and other pages, and the Food Timeline State Foods link to "Missouri".