There is something about a finger sandwich that is rather thrilling. These are a delicate buttery example with the crisp celery providing crunch and tang against a backdrop of peppery watercress and salty anchovy.
- 200 ml water
- 200 ml cider vinegar
- 15 g raw caster sugar
- 5 g cooking salt
- 1 thyme sprig
- 2 bay leaves
- 190 g celery, peeled and cut into ½ cm moons (approximately 3 medium stalks)
- 6 large-ish garlic cloves
- olive oil, to cover
- 8 large anchovy fillets
- 170 g butter, at room temperature
- white pepper
- ½ lemon
- 6 cups watercress
- 20 slices good quality white square loaf bread
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Pickling time overnight
Place the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and herbs into a saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat and then set aside until it reaches room temperature. Once it has cooled, pour it over the celery in a bowl and refrigerate overnight.
Place the garlic cloves in a very small saucepan, cover with olive oil and place over medium heat. As soon as the oil starts to bubble turn the heat to very low and gently cook the cloves for about 15-20 minutes or until soft. You want the oil just warm, rather than simmering, so the cloves gently poach without colouring.
Once the garlic is cooked, strain the oil and set aside. Place the garlic cloves and anchovies into a mortar and pestle and grind until you have a paste.
Place the paste, butter and a generous amount of white pepper into a mixing bowl and use a spatula to combine. You will need to mix vigorously as you want the mix to amalgamate and to become slightly beaten and fluffy. Season with a small squeeze of lemon juice.
Strain the pickled celery. Place the watercress in a bowl with the celery, give it a small drizzle of the reserved garlic oil and gently toss to combine. The remaining oil can be reserved and used in all manner of ways.
Spread out your bread. Butter each slice and dived the filling generously between half the slices of bread. Place the other side of bread on top to make a sandwich and gently press down.
Carefully cut the crusts off and discard, and then cut each sandwich into three even fingers. Serve immediately with several pots of tea.
• These sandwiches are best eaten shortly after being made; however if you do need to do them ahead of time, stack them carefully and cover with a tea towel until you are ready.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Tiffany Page. Creative concept by Lou Fay.
Follow O Tama on Instagram.