It is sprats for dinner tonight.
How many years has it been since I heard those words? Far too many, sad to say.
Such a simple pleasure, and so damned tasty too.
And healthy as well, for we are now frequently told that oily fish should be a regular part of our diet – information we neither knew nor cared about in those far off days.
Sprats were sprats, there to be savoured and enjoyed. End of story. Part of the weekaday home-cooked fare.
But how often are they seen in the homes of today or on the menus of the country’s restaurants and cafes?
Their fellow Omega-3 bearers – herrings, sardines and whitebait chief among them – make regular appearances on the carte. Yet rarely does the sprat emerge from apparent obscurity.
Such a pity for a delight so delectable and which has so much going for it, especially for those struggling to foot the weekly family food bill. Consider this:
- They require no culinary expertise. Give them a light dusting of floor and let them brown briefly in a smattering of butter (or whatever cooking oil floats your boat) and they are cooked in next to no time.
- They are the original finger food – the kids will love them. No poncy knoves and forks needed; simply hold by head and tail and teeth them off the bone. Scrumptious. (Paper towels and/or napkins are advisable).
- They are tasty. Their a flavour is neither too “fishy” (an inexplicable description frequently used by some to describe edible marine life) nor too delicate.
- They are nutritious and good for you.
- They are inexpensive, cost next to nothing. An ample serve comes in at well under a pound.
Add a squeeze of lemon, a crispy green salad and a chunk of farmhouse bread and you have a meal made in heaven.
Plus maybe a glass of fizz or a cool crisp reisling,
No doubt even the word sprat itself will cause bewilderment to the modern food-to-go generation and the method of eating will provoke emotions ranging from horror to disgust – even from those whose daily diet mostly entails chowing down while grasping either side of a far more greasy bun.