This is the sandwich you never knew you were missing: a strawberry cream sandwich… aka the strawberry sando (aka ichigo sando). We discovered this Japanese fruit sandwich on our first trip to Tokyo and it remains a favorite culinary travel memory.
Our strawberry sando discovery
We didn’t know much about Japanese food when we first visited the country. Sure we knew sushi and ramen, but not much more. Like many visitors, we were blown away by the abundance of deliciousness in the Japanese konbini (aka convenience stores). And we were curious when we saw what looked like a poor man’s strawberry shortcake in a 7-11.
The strawberry sando turned out to be just what it seemed: strawberries and whipped cream sandwiched between two pieces of crustless bread. And it was delicious.
What we didn’t know at the time is that we were treated to a seasonal delight. In subsequent visits during different times of year, we could never again find the strawberry sando – only other Japanese fruit sandwiches with kiwi and the like. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to replicate. It only took us 11 years to try.
How to make this Japanese fruit sandwich
The Japanese strawberry sandwich has three simple components. First, strawberries. Get the best you can as they provide all the flavor for this sandwich.
Second, homemade whipped cream, comprised of heavy cream and vanilla extract. We prefer unsweetened whipped cream, so there’s no sugar in our recipe. If you’ve got some perfect, ripe, sweet strawberries, you won’t miss it.
Third, white bread. Now, the Japanese fruit sandwich is usually made with milk bread (or shokupan in Japanese). But we don’t have access to such delicacies, nor are we skilled enough home bakers to make it ourselves. So we used plain old white bread and it stood up. However, if you do have or can make milk bread, by all means use it.
It feels a touch ridiculous writing recipe tips for making a sandwich, but the Japanese fruit sandwich can be a thing of art, so we feel we must.
First, whip your whipped cream and remove the cores from your strawberries. Next, lay out four pieces of bread side by side (you’re making two sandwiches). Spoon 1/6 of the whipped cream on each piece of bread and then spread it out with a knife.
Now the artful part begins. On two pieces of bread, lay three strawberries in a diagonal line from one corner to another. Then fill in the empty spaces with four more strawberries (or however many fit). Then spoon the rest of the whipped cream on top of the strawberries, filling in the gaps. Then put the strawberry-free pieces of bread on top.
One the sandwiches are made, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. Use a permanent marker to mark a line in the direction of the line of strawberries to help with the cutting later. Put each strawberry cream sandwich between two plates to squash them down a bit and refrigerate them for at least one hour.
When you remove them from the fridge, cut them on the bias per the line you marked so you’re cutting the strawberries in half and making a beautiful Japanese fruit sandwich. Of course you must also cut the crusts off (but be sure to enjoy any strawberry bits and whipped cream that gets cut off as well).
Enjoy your artful, fun strawberry sando and pretend you’re in Japan (we do it all the time).
<< Get inspired by other cheap eats in Tokyo >>
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 14 strawberries
- 4 pieces white bread
- Pour chilled cream into a large bowl and add vanilla. Whip cream (by hand or with an electric mixer) until soft peaks form.
- Remove the cores of the strawberries with a small paring knife.
Strawberry sando assembly
- Spread 1/6 of the whipped cream on one side of each piece of bread.
- On one piece of bread, place 3 strawberries face down in a diagonal line from one corner to another. Place 4 smaller strawberries around the line. Repeat with other piece of bread.
- Spread half the remaining whipped cream on top of the strawberries, filling in the gaps. Place other piece of bread on top. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve, unwrap, slice sandwiches in half (per the vertical line you've reminded yourself about), cut the crusts off, and enjoy.
- We prefer unsweetened whipped cream, so there’s no sugar in our recipe. If you prefer otherwise, go ahead and make it how you like it.