Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sardine Savoury

Sardine Savoury  (M. C. McClintock)
pg 72

  • 1 tin sardines
  • 1 tsp Worcester sauce
  • 1 small tin of anchovies
  • 30g butter (at room temperature)
  • pinch cayenne pepper 
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 30g extra butter
  • 30g flour
  • salt to taste
  • bread for toasting (preferably wholegrain, rye or brown)
Puree the anchovies until smooth (adding in a little of the oil if required).  Set aside. 

Combine the sardines, Worcester sauce, a tsp of the anchovy puree, the softened butter and the cayenne pepper in a food processor and blend until a smooth paste consistency.   

Heat the extra butter in a saucepan.  Remove from the heat and stir through the flour.  Steadily and slowly add the milk, stirring it through well until all has been added.  Stir through a little of the anchovy puree to taste.  Return to the heat and stir over a medium flame until thickened into a sauce.  (A basic white sauce,)  

Toast the bread slices then cut into rounds using a large size scone cutter.  Spread a thin layer of the sardine paste on the toast followed by a thin layer of the white sauce.  

I am not the world's biggest seafood fan.   I have never (knowingly) eaten anchovies.  So I suppose it is interesting that I would choose this of all the savoury recipes in the book to cook.  I suspect it was because sardines remind me of a time when my family lived next door to my grandma - and if we visited at lunchtimes, she would often make us sardine sandwiches.  So to me sardines seem like one of those foods that were once very much in fashion and now are not.

Once I'd made my mind up to make this recipe it was easy enough to source all of the ingredients.... with the exception of anchovy sauce.  I looked in supermarket, delicatessen and specialist food stores but couldn't find the mysterious ingredient.  At length I decided to just make a sauce by turning canned anchovies into a puree.   If anyone knows if anchovy sauce was something more than this I'd love to know!

With all ingredients in hand the rest of the process was incredibly simple.  The sardine paste came together remarkably easily.  The white sauce was like any other white sauce but with the addition of some of the pureed anchovies.

As for flavour - if you've ever bought store bought fish paste (in the sandwich spread section) you have the perfect reference for the sardine paste.  It tastes precisely like that.  The white sauce with the anchovy addition was piquant and I would have liked it very much..... IF I HADN'T SLATHERED BOTH PASTE AND SAUCE ON THE TOAST IN LAYERS AS THICK AS MY LITTLE FINGER!!!

Warning.  Do not slather either paste or sauce on the toast in layers as thick as anyone's little finger.

I highly recommend using the paste like any sandwich spread (in a thin, sensible layer) and the sauce as a light addition.

About M. C. McClintock

Sometimes finding information about the lady who donated a recipe from the cookbook can be like pulling hen's teeth.  A lot of effort for very little result and what little you find is sketchy and not certain to be related to the lady in question.  Other times the first dig delivers a treasure of information.  This was the case with M. C. McClintock.   I immediately found a number of newspaper articles about the wedding of Mabel Carl Whitely to Richard McClintock in the City Tabernacle Church.  Yes, yes and yes!

With the extra information about her maiden name I was able to find some sweet articles about how she sang a solo at the Woombye ANZAC (soldier memorial) ceremony in 1930 and continued lending her voice to solos at the church and other events.  I imagine she must have had a lovely singing voice to be in demand at weddings.

It seems like she was very active in social organisations.  She was listed as a donor of an item during the Waverley Masonic Lodge social night at the School of Arts.  Just prior to her wedding she received the pre-wedding gift of a silver tea set from the Brisbane Women's Club for her 6 years of service.

There was a mention about her bridal shower "china tea" held by her bridesmaid Nan Shaw in the gossip column of May of 1936 then a lovely write-up about her June wedding at the City Tabernacle.  I enjoyed the descriptions about what the bridesmaids wore and what Mabel wore for her going-away dress.


  1. LOL. For someone who isn't all that into seafood, you were brave to tackle this one and then slather so much of it on your cracker. Did you intentionally choose sardines in oil vs sardines in brine for period authenticity or due to availability?

    1. Melissa, I've been finding myself pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone with a lot of things this year, food included. My folly with slathering the thick layers on the toast was I think in part because the recipe made so much paste that I automatically used it in greater quantities than I might have if it produced only a little jar's worth. The sauce went on thickly to match the amount of paste I put on! ;)

      There was an old woman who swallowed a fly....

      It's a while back now, but I think I picked the sardines in oil because I thought that I might add some of the oil to the puree mixture if I required it (which I didn't).

      A friend on Facebook suggested that I should have used Asian fish sauce from the supermarket as a substitute for the anchovy sauce because it's often made on anchovies. Do you agree?

    2. A lot of fish sauce is made with anchovies, because it's one of those species that can be quite abundant and doesn't have too high a value as fresh fish. However, there are 'fish sauces' made with other fish and seafood, including krill, prawns, squid, seafish... it can be quite varied. But fish sauce would yield a very different flavour compared to anchovies, because it's a fermented product. Whereas anchovies are cured and pickled or stuck in brine (and not generally a fermented product when commercially produced these days).