Thursday, July 05, 2012

Food Memories: Sako's BLT

BLT from Bassborough Kitchen, fashioned after the World's
Best BLT made at Sako's diner in Iwakuni, Japan.
The area surrounding the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan, where my husband and thus, I, were stationed from 1987-1990, was renowned for several sumptuous dining spots. My mouth still waters when I recall weekly date nights at our regular spots, Sanzoku, which the Americans called the Chicken Shack; Coq D'or, sublime french cuisine prepared before your eyes; and Sako's. Sako's wasn't really a date-night place, but a lunch spot for the world's best Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato (BLT) sandwiches.

Begin with fresh, thickly sliced white bread. Since I can't find
bread suitable for a Sako's BLT, I baked my own.
Urban legend has it that Sako's was once featured in Playboy magazine among a list of the best diners in the world. I spent several minutes searching the net to see if I could find a link to any such article.

There are raving reviews and food memories from people who visited Sako's through the years, but I found nothing to substantiate the claim. Here's my take-away. If Playboy had done a feature on the world's best diners, specifically searching for the best BLT, they would have featured Sako's.
Tomatoes must be large, red-ripe, and cut into 1/4-inch slices.
Bacon, the essential ingredient of the BLT. To get flat
bacon for sandwiches, I bake the bacon in my convection
oven until it's fully cooked, but not crisp.
When food memories get too much for me, which is to say, when my cravings for certain remembrances of food get too strong, I try to replicate the food item. Last Saturday as I fried bacon for BassMan and son, my craving for Sako's BLT piqued. This was predicated by the purchase of a large, truly ripe, homegrown tomato from one of the roadside stands that spring up here in North Carolina every summer. The holy trinity of sandwich elements were in my possession at one time--or at least in my grasp.

A Sako's BLT is the confluence of three thick elements: Thickly sliced white bread; thickly sliced ripe tomatoes, and thickly sliced bacon.

I had the thickly sliced bacon, the tasty ripe tomato, but bread? I have yet to find a bakery in North Carolina that sells the thickly sliced (Texas toast-style) white bread so commonly purchased in Japan. So I did what I always do when I can't find a specific ingredient. Improvise. I threw the ingredients for white bread into my bread machine and clicked "BAKE." Three hours later I had a perfect loaf of fluffy, white bread that I cut into thick slices.

In addition to the holy trinity of the BLT, one needs crisp lettuce and copious amounts of mayonnaise over the lightly toasted white bread. Sako's cuts their BLTs horizontally, but I prefer a sandwich cut diagonally.

The result? What do you think?