El Eme's Mythical "Triángulo" Sandwich With Secret Sauce

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: Full disclosure: I’m not usually a ham sandwich person. I love sandwiches—I even moved to Mallorca to open my own sandwich shop. But aside from an occasional jamón serrano, you’d never find me jonesin’ for a ham sandwich—until I tried a triangulo sandwich from Bar El Eme in Bilbao. My sandwich world was forever changed. With just five ingredients: ham, lettuce, mayonnaise, spicy sauce and white bread, you have to wonder: How could something so simple be so good? Is it the artisanal bread, baked fresh daily? Is it the supreme quality of the ham? Or maybe it’s the aura surrounding the spicy sauce, with a secret recipe that’s been passed down through four generations. Recently, I took a trip to my favorite Basque city for another taste of that mythical sandwich, and to see if I could figure out the secret sauce inside.Caitlin Gunther Raux

Food52 Review: Featured in: In Spain, a Mythical Ham Sandwich That's Been Passed Down Four Generations.The Editors

Makes: 1 sandwich
Prep time: 10 min


For the sandwich

  • 1 schmear secret sauce, recipe follows
  • 2 slices white sandwich bread
  • 1 piece thin-sliced ham
  • 1 piece lettuce
  • 1 schmear mayonnaise

For the secret sauce

  • 1 alegria riojana or other spicy roasted red pepper
  • 1 (non-spicy) roasted red pepper
  • 1/2 Italian green pepper, seeds removed
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 oil-packed anchovies
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
In This Recipe


For the sandwich

  1. Spread spicy sauce on the bottom piece of sandwich bread. Layer ham and lettuce on top. Spread a healthy coat of mayonnaise on top piece of sandwich bread. Close sandwich, cut diagonally and enjoy.

For the secret sauce

  1. Add everything but the last two ingredients to a food processor or blender. Blend on high until smooth.
  2. Stream in olive oil and blend on medium-low until sauce is completely mixed.
  3. Add about half of the salt, blend and taste. The anchovies add a good hit of saltiness already, so taste and adjust salt to your liking.

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Reviews (10) Questions (0)

10 Reviews

Irene August 23, 2018
What is an Italian green pepper and where would I find it? Is it hot? Sweet? This sounds delish!
Author Comment
Caitlin G. August 26, 2018
Not hot! Just a long, thin, green pepper like you'd find in the produce aisle.
Irene August 26, 2018
Thank you!
Judy August 18, 2018
One of my favorite sandwiches: extra sour San Francisco sour dough bread. Thinly sliced Italian dry salami, mayonnaise and sliced kosher fill pickle
Author Comment
Caitlin G. August 26, 2018
Mmmmmmm :-)
Regine August 17, 2018
Caitlin, thanks so much. Looking forward to making this recipe. I too think I would prefer sandwich untoasted. But your picture shows a bread that is toasted so this is why I asked. I hope I can find the alegris riojana.
Author Comment
Caitlin G. August 17, 2018
Nope, the bread isn't toasted - that's why it has that pillowy, not crunchy texture. I'd recommend a thick-sliced white bread - something sturdy. Alegria riojana is a small, hot red pepper, usually comes in a can... If you can't find, maybe a hot cherry pepper, the kind that comes in a jar. And I bought the roasted red pepper in a jar. Hope that helps!
Regine August 16, 2018
The bread must be toasted, right? I will have to google to see what the alegria riojana and Italian green pepper look like. For the roasted red pepper, did you do it yourself or buy the ones that are in the can? I look forward to trying this recipe. Thanks.
Eric S. August 21, 2018
I, too, have pepper questions. Since I don’t have experience with Spanish peppers, I will have to substitute. Can you give us some measurements?
Author Comment
Caitlin G. August 26, 2018
Hi Eric! I'd say use regular roasted pepper, the kind that comes in a can/jar, and then add some heat "to taste" - just to give it a subtle kick. So if you start with hot cherry peppers, add a half, blend, taste, and repeat as you like. If you want to avoid the hot peppers altogether, choose another spice - like cayenne pepper - start with a 1/4-1/2 teaspoon, and adjust to taste. hope this helps!