A pound of sprats

After the joy of cooking succulent fresh sardines for the first time last week, I could only fall. Utterly and foolishly seduced by the wink of a near-wriggling-fresh silvery sprat on the fishmonger’s slab. Oh lordy. I restrained myself and “only” bought a pound of the tiny darlings. Foolish when I’m cooking for myself alone?

Gutted and cleaned them – easy, when they’re so fresh.

Meal #1 – similar in flavour and texture to fresh sardines, treated in the same way, and they work just as superbly well in this simple pasta recipe. Divine. If gorgeously and messily “finger-friendly”.

But … I had bought a pound of the little mouthfuls.

Meal #2 – Coated in flour and fried again. Served with slices of buttered home-made wholemeal bread, a gentle sprinkle or parsley, and a tomato and orange salad. Now that is a breakfast.

But … I had bought a pound of the little mouthfuls. And there were still more than a dozen of the little buggers, winking at me every time I opened the fridge door! Still silvery bright, eyes aglow.

Meal #3 – Sprats and Mustard Sauce; a bit more speculative.

For one person.

  • Fry half a finely chopped onion until soft.
  • Prepare the sprats – clean and coat in flour. Put the frying pan to the heat, just to get hot.
  • Add a teaspoon of flour to the onions, and cook for a minute or two. Season with salt and pepper, add milk; heat to thicken, but NOT too thick – you want a pouring sauce. Add a teaspoon of mustard powder; mix in and keep warm.
  • Add oil to the frying pan, and fry the floured sprats quickly on both sides.

  • Serve – slices of good home-made bread, sprats with sauce poured over, and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

Honestly? It doesn’t look wonderful on the plate, but the mustard flavour complements the oily fish beautifully. And, as a whole, leaves an extraordinarily satisfying, gently developing, warming and enriching aftertaste. [Don’t spoil with a hasty pudding.]


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