STACKED is a Scout column that aims to dig down into the delicious details of Vancouver’s better sandwiches and burgers. From banh mi and burgers to sliders and reubens, the goal is to craft and catalog an archive of awesome that visitors and locals alike can reference when at their hungriest.
by Andrew Morrison | The artfully constructed French Onion Dip at The Tuck Shoppe on Union St. is nothing short of a sandwich masterpiece. And like any superior piece of art worthy of our attentions it is complete. If you were to add anything to it or take something away from it it would lose its overall impact, which is quite simply an edible expression of perfection.
1. Thinly sliced 63 Acres beef brisket brined for 24 hours in a mix of red wine vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. It then sits in a sous vide bath for 24 hours at 62.5 degrees before resting for a day. It is sliced and portioned out at 5oz per sandwich and finally baptized in jus to order. Dissolves on the tooth after two or three chews.
2. Hard Bite brand potato chips, plain. You could fuss about them not being prepped in house, but they play a supplementary, added-value role here and are far from instrumental to the whole.
3. A mere whisper of Emmentaler, a yellow, medium-hard Swiss cheese made from cow’s milk. It might add a lick of slickness to the overall texture, but the taste impact is negligible.
4. The jus is a salty combination of the meat’s brine, the moisture from the meat’s sous vide preparation, and some puréed caramelized onion.
5. The role the parsley plays here is all about adding a little bit of colour to the presentation. It is otherwise overwhelmed by its flavour neighbours.
6. Caramelized white onions play a big role in this sandwich, as they not only act as a visible and palate-perceptible layer they’re also pureed into the dipping jus (detailed in fig. 4).
7. Quartered pickle made in house. Boiled brine of white vinegar, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, garlic, dill, salt, mustard seeds, peppercorns, sambal and fennel is cooled and steeped for 24 hours before another 24 hours of cucumber immersion. Very flavourful and not overly crunchy.
8. Horseradish is pretty much the hero of this sandwich. For me it’s what pulls everything together, even more so than the dipping jus. It elevates what would otherwise be a marinated steak sandwich into something special. It might look like a lot, but the shavings are tiny, and a little goes a long way.
9. Yellow and Dijon mustards blended with a little paprika. A cool move on the part of chef Martin Keyer to keep this on the side as mustard can be a motherfucker with delicate flavour balancing acts. For my part, I prefer not to let the horseradish do its thing alone and use the mustard instead to soften the crunch of the chips and give them the flavour they’re missing. Waste not, want not, et cetera.
10. The bread is from La Baguette on East 1st Avenue, a wholesale baker that’s been in the trade since 1982. Once it’s loaded up it’s toasted for three minutes before the garnishes (figs. 5, 8) are applied. It crisps up nicely but surrenders to the bite with little pressure.
11. Aside from its minor flavour role, the spread of mayonnaise adds enough viscosity to keep the meat moving on the bread’s surface under the weight of the other ingredients (and the swampy deluge of dipping jus), but not so much that all of the meat comes out at once in a disastrous one-bite exodus.