Sprats are fiddly to prepare but so worth the effort writes Sandra Tate …
Using a small, sharp knife cut cleanly along the belly, pull out the innards and rinse. Now cut off the head and push a thumb gently down inside the sprat on either side of the back bone to loosen it before pulling cleanly out of the fish (the tail will come with it). Now trim along the belly edge to remove traces of fin.
Smoked Sprats & Seeded Soda Bread
I bought 750g of sprats and counted 40 of them! It took a good deal of time and patience but the resultwere beautiful little fillets, almost bone free.
Ingredients for 6
750g very fresh sprats
sprigs of watercress
for the soda bread:
400g plain flour
100g plain wholemeal
20g mixed toasted seeds
1 rounded tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
340ml warm milk
40g melted butter
1 tbsp lemon juice
1. Once filleted, sprinkle the sprat fillets with salt and leave for 15 minutes. Rinse and pat completely dry with kitchen paper. Get the Bradley Smoker ready with several cherry bisquettes in the stack. Heat the cabinet to 70Â°C. Lay the fillets in pairs (flesh to flesh) on a wire rack and transfer to the smoker over a drip tray. Smoke for about 45 minutes – 1 hour, allow to cool, refrigerate.
2. Preheat the oven to 200Â°C.
Place all the dry ingredients for the soda bread in a large bowl, mixing lightly with fingers. Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk, melted butter and lemon juice. Bring the ingredients together to a slightly sticky dough then turn out onto a floured surface. Knead for a minute and form into a ball. Place on a floured baking tray and flatten slightly with a rolling pin before making the traditional cross on the top by pressing down on the handle of a wooden spoon. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until browned and crusty.
3. Serve the smoked sprats with lemon wedges, watercress and warm soda bread.