How to Prepare Fresh Sprats (You Don’t)

by Owen James Burke


A short order along many shores during one season or another, sprats are easy to catch, especially when schooling in lagoons during the Fall in the Caribbean. “Sprats” is a name given to a variety of small fish, but it’s easiest to think of them as baby sardines and it’d be hard to decipher the difference if you tried.

Scale for scale, and I might venture to say pound for pound, they may be the easiest fish in the world to prepare and cook. They’ve got very white meat, but are full of oil, so they cook well without any olive or vegetable oil. In fact, they cook perfectly just by themselves.

Toss them into a pan, adding a few drops of sea water if you like. Let them cook for about one minute or until the skin barely starts to lift and then flip them over and let them sit for another minute. Once cooked — you’ll know when, and if not, I’ll bet you’ve eaten something worse — put them on a paper towel. Then, if you’ve got it, add a light sprinkling or spray of extra virgin olive oil. Top it with some very coarsely ground sea salt and a few squeezes of lemon, and a bottle of white wine or a light lager will do nicely on the side.

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