Recipes / Savoury

Guilty pleasures: Smoked Mackerel, Cheddar Cheese and Nam Prik Pao Toasted Sandwich

Sept2012 004_s

Made with an overhead grill. The toast is dry and crunchy this way; the fried version is a little richer due to the added butter. Frying also results in much more delicate and crisp bread because of how everything is pressed together as it heats.

My care is like my shadow
Laid bare beneath the sun
It follows me at all times
And flies when I pursue it

I freeze and yet am always burned
Since from myself again I turn
I love and yet am forced to hate
I seem stark mute; inside I prate

Some gentler love doth ease itself
Into my heart and mind
For I am soft and made of snow
Love, be more cruel or so be kind

‘The Virgin Queen’ by Mediæval Bæbes and Martin Phipps. Selected lines from ‘On Monsieur’s Departure’ by Elizabeth I. (You can listen to this song on Youtube also)

I’m sure that many of us can, on some level, relate to the struggle of having to hide a deep and perhaps unacceptable love. I don’t wish to sully by comparison but this is pretty much how I feel about how various items of food. This sandwich, for example,  probably fills some of you with horror because of the very fact of its existence. That’s fine. Personally, I’m quite fond of how the strength of the smoked mackerel and cheese is balanced by the slight sweetness of the roasted chilli paste. There’s also the contrast in textures: crisp bread, melted cheese, silky smoked fish. I like it with a crisp apple on the side.

P.S. If like many people on the internet you enjoy Tom Hardy, you’ll probably enjoy ‘The Virgin Queen.’ For me Anne-Marie Duff is the main attraction. I will not comment on the historical accuracy for various reasons, but I will say that some of the smaller details, e.g. use of miniature portraits, were interesting.


2 slices white bread, not too thick.
1 piece smoked mackerel, not too salty.
About 50g medium-strength cheddar cheese – as much as you can pile onto each slice of bread, basically.
About 2 tablespoons nam prik pao
Butter, soft and spreadable, if pan-frying

You can assemble these sandwiches according to the equipment you have. I have given the two methods I’ve used here.

Overhead grill: Toast the bread on both sides to your liking. Remove from the heat and generously spread nam prik pao on one side of each slice. You want to completely cover the bread to the edges in an opaque layer. Flake the fish into large pieces and arrange on one slice of bread. Heap the cheese onto the other slice of bread.

Grill on a low heat about 6 inches away from the element just until everything is heated through and the cheese has melted – keep an eye on everything so it doesn’t burn/dry out. Carefully sandwich the two slices together and serve immediately.

Pan/skillet: Set a pan or skillet on a low heat. Assemble the sandwich as it heats up. Generously spread nam prik pao on one side of each bread slice, right to the edges in an opaque layer. Flake the fish into large pieces and arrange on one slice of bread, then top with the cheese and close the sandwich.

Spread the outside of this top bread slice with butter. Lower the sandwich buttered-side down into the waiting pan. Butter the exposed side of the sandwich. Cook for a couple of minutes on either side until the outside is well browned and the cheese has melted. Keep the heat fairly low and do not move the sandwich around too much. Flip the sandwich onto the first side to re-heat it a little at the end. Eat right away.

7 thoughts on “Guilty pleasures: Smoked Mackerel, Cheddar Cheese and Nam Prik Pao Toasted Sandwich

    • Hee, glad you think so, thank you! :D

      My parents got me the nam prik pao, it’s Mae Ploy brand. They tend to shop at Wing Yip in Croydon or the branch of Hoo Hing in Mitcham. I’ve seen the same brand (along with others) in my local Thai shop and many of the Chinatown shops, too. It’s one of Kasma Loha-unchit’s recommended brands. It’s a bit on the sweet side, which I think really works in dishes like this to contrast the salty flavours, but I’d still like to try making my own.

      • Cool! Yes, definitely, I was just there today (yesterday, rather….) and had a nose around the shops. Many of them will stock similar dry goods, pastes, sauces, including nam prik pao.

        My family and I like New Loon Moon and SeeWoo’s – big range of fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs in addition to all the staple dry goods and sauces etc. Was tempted by a huge bunch of cha-om at New Loon Moon…

      • Ah yes, I’ve been there before. Wicked shop full of tempting goodies. I’ll keep you posted when I make and post my Kao Soi. This is my Chiang mai special. Thanks again, Andy

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