I always like to check out the fish stalls at Nottingham Market, I was looking for Mackerel which are just coming into season. They didn’t have any Mackerel but did have another plentiful shoaling fish from the UK shores. Sprats are from the herring family at most 9cm long and less than 1cm wide they resemble large whitebait – beautiful tiny silvery oily fish. I have never eaten them before recipes diverged between grilling and frying, my grill never gets hot enough to grill fish without almost poaching it so I will save grilling for the summer BBQ
These were big specimens many more than 10cm so while they do not need gutting, I removed the heads but if they are smaller you can eat the heads, some recipes suggested using milk and flour but I was tempted by a beer batter.
The result was crunchy light tasting fish, closer to cod than an oily fish like sardines. All they needed was a squeeze of lemon and a glass of cold white wine
For 200g of sprats ( enough for two as a starter)
- Mix 1 cup of plain flour with half a cup of light beer ( I used a Dandelion Beer from Badger Beers) .
- Season the batter with 3 finely chopped sage leaves, salt and pepper.
- Heat a couple centimetres of sunflower oil in a pan until a drop batter sizzles when dropped into the oil.
- Dip about five sprats in the batter placing gently in the hot oil.
- Cook for a few minutes until browned do not be tempted to move them around.
- Remove from the oil and place on kitchen paper in a warm oven.
- Repeat until all the sprats are cooked
- Serve with a squeeze of lemon or some garlic mayonnaise