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!

4 replies
  1. Quince Tart
    Quince Tart says:

    Ah damn, a couple of ‘less fresh than they should have been’ sdeafood experiences recentlyh have really put me off fish. Otherwise I’d be in my fishmonger (the OTHER fishmonger) tomorrow demanding sprats. As it is I think I need to leave it a little while. :[

  2. miss_south
    miss_south says:

    Oh yes, that’s a serious consideration with fish and seafood. I know how to tell if fish is sparkling fresh (shiny eyes, no fishy smell etc) but I’m not quite sure with seafood, so I don’t really buy it fresh. I should either look up some tips or start playing Seafood Roulette more often…

    Good luck getting back to the fishy love!

  3. mister_north
    mister_north says:

    Mmm, I love sprats! Sometimes I’ll mix up some sweet smoked paprika in flour and coat the little fellas, before some quick cooking and a generous dousing of lemon juice. Perfect on some toasted wholemeal bread. I’ve not done sprats for a month now and I think I might have to hunt some down!

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