I love these little fish, they are so cheap to buy and really tasty to eat. Fried sprats are high in omega-3 fatty acids (when eaten from fresh like in the recipe below) and because they are low down on the food chain they are less likely to have a high mercury content. So they are a win win little fish and they really do make a delicious meal or snack.
I prefer sprats cooked simply, I either shallow fry them in vegetable oil, or in the summer I enjoy them seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled on a barbecue for a few minutes on each side. Simple, tasty and delicious!
You can eat these without gutting them if you prefer, however if you would rather gut them you will need a small sharp knife. Insert the knife underneath the gills at front of the fish (along the base) and create an incision about 1 cm long, then rinse the fish under cold water to wash the insides away. Drain the fishes and pat dry with kitchen roll before you coat them with flour.
I usually place a wire rack over some kitchen roll next to the hob, so as the sprats cook I can scoop them out using a slotted spoon (don’t use tongs they will fall apart) and place them on the rack to get rid of any excess oil. Once they are all cooked, and while they are hot – pop them into a dish and eat as soon as possible. I love mine as they are, or if you are enjoying them for lunch they are great with chips – always makes me feel like I’m at the seaside. A wedge of lemon is also a great addition.
I tend to eat the whole fish minus the head, but you can eat the entire fish head and all!
- Vegetable oil
- 6 - 7 Sprats
- Pinch of Salt
- Black Pepper
- 4 heaped tablespoons of Plain Flour
- Gently rinse the sprats in cold water, then pat dry with kitchen roll.
- Place the heaped teaspoons of flour onto a plate, add a pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper and mix.
- Place each sprat into the flour and turn until coated (you don't need to egg wash the sprats in advance).
- Place a good glug of olive oil into a small saucepan (there should be enough to cover the sprats - just under an inch is fine) and heat until a small piece of bread fries golden brown in less than 50 seconds.
- Using a slotted metal spatula or spoon, carefully place three of the sprats into the oil (don't be tempted to cook them in large batches or the oil temperature will reduce and you will end up with soggy fish).
- Fry for about 3 minutes - 4 minutes for any larger sprats, until they are lightly golden and crispy.
- Place a piece of kitchen roll under a wire rack and place the sprats onto the rack to drain off any excess oil.
- Serve quickly, as they are best enjoyed freshly cooked and hot.