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

August 15, 2018
Photo by Jenny Huang
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 Raux Gunther

Test Kitchen Notes

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

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Makes 1 sandwich
  • 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
  1. For the sandwich
  2. 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.
  1. For the secret sauce
  2. Add everything but the last two ingredients to a food processor or blender. Blend on high until smooth.
  3. Stream in olive oil and blend on medium-low until sauce is completely mixed.
  4. 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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Caitlin is a Paris-based writer and editor.