If you lined up Pret-A-Manger’s worldwide outlets, they’d resemble a Twinkie production line, each one eerily identical including the plastic aroma. But unlike Twinkies, which taste just as bland purchased from Selfridges as when snagged from a Brooklyn bodega, the food at Pret varies. Take their crayfish and rocket sandwich. I discovered it while living in London and soon found it in refrigerator cases everywhere from Morrison’s to Marks & Spencers. Don’t look for it in US sandwich cases, just settle for the strangely saccharine spicy shrimp and cilantro wrap. Crayfish and rocket’s popularity in the UK is as understandable as its absence in the US is baffling. Crammed full of mini-chewy shrimp, peppery arugula (rocket), and a thick smear of mayonnaise, the sandwich removes its crusts when showing up for a sophisticated tea-time, then dons a paper box for an al-desko lunch (just be sure to brush the crumbs off your keyboard). In England, most cafes will use a soft granary bread, but I enjoy the structure a nubbly whole-grain loaf provides. That way more crayfish end up in your mouth than on your pants.
Crayfish and Rocket Sandwich
- 2 slices of medium-thick wholegrain sandwich bread, untoasted
- 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
- 4 shrimp, peeled and cooked
- ¼ cup arugula, roughly chopped
- Black pepper
Place your sliced bread on a buttering or cutting board. Spread one slice with greek yogurt in an even layer, just to the edges of the crust.
Chop the shrimp into small cubes, about the size and shape of your finger nail. You want them small enough to fit inside the bread without creating lumps, but not be so small that they become a squishy mess. Scatter them in an even layer over the slice of bread with yogurt. Season with a generous grind of pepper.
Cover the shrimp with the chopped arugula and pat down. Place the remaining slice of bread on top and press down gently so the layers together hold together. You can cut it on the diagonal like they do at sandwich chains, or you can just eat. I prefer the latter.