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Sprats Escovitch

close up sprats

Sprats may not have the most appealing name, but they are well worth looking at twice (or naming twice like their Latin name of sprattus sprattus) especially if you make a point to eat seasonally or enjoy excellent value. Tiny shimmering silvery fish you eat whole, they are in season for the next few weeks and they still cost mere pennies to buy. I usually grill or fry them and serve a big plate of them with lemon and parsley and some good bread for a fantastic Saturday lunch. But with the weather as grey around the gills as the fish, I needed something more…

I decided to go with that Jamaican classic and serve them escovitch style, brightening the senses with brightly coloured vegetables and the fresh flavours of the sweet and sour marinade that covers them. It’s simple, delicious and very easy.

Originally published at Brixton Blog…

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Jack Sprat…

May I introduce you to the perfect light spring lunch? Grilled sprats with a chunk of fresh ciabatta on a sunny April afternoon…

Sprattus Sprattus are small herring-like oily fish, a little bit bigger than whitebait. Small and perfectly formed, their stocks are abundant and are an excellent sustainable option on the fishmongers’ counter. They also happen to be cheaper than chips…a pound weight of these little beauties cost me 98p in Brixton Market. In fact the ciabatta roll I bought to accompany them was more expensive…

Sprats are also extremely easy to cook. A quick rinse and a few minutes snipping out the innards, then seasoned well and straight under a super hot grill for 2-3 minutes each side, giving you just enough time to cut some bread, chop some parsley and find a lemon. When the skin is blistered and crunchy, you are ready for a proper feast.

Piled high on a plate, doused in lemon juice and a good pinch of smoked sea salt, these are delicious eaten with your fingers or mashed onto bread. I tend to leave the heads and eat the tails, but you can eat them whole too. They are surprisingly unfishy with a rich flavour similar to mackerel and even grilling them whole left my kitchen smelling more of the seaside than anything else!

I ate half the amount I bought for lunch and was surprisingly full. They were fresh and tasty and a lovely change from my usual oily fish fix of a can of sardines on toast. They also felt like a real lunchtime treat, so if you aren’t squeamish about heads or tails, I recommend you get down to your local fishmonger as soon as possible!