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Best great budget recipes for 50% or less: Crispy fried sprats recipe

Photo: Fresh sprats

Photo: Fresh sprats

When I lived in London I often ordered whitebait as a starter. I thought that they had to be deep fried and would be a palaver to rustle up at home. Also I rarely found them in the shops.

Eventually I discovered that they can be fried in a little oil and were fun to prepare shaken in a bag of seasoned flour.

Danny sprang in through the front door brandishing a 450g bag of sprats last week. Reduced from £2.49 to just 36p. I have never tried sprats. It’s the sort of dish that I imagined Peggotty’s family would sit down to in their converted boat (David Copperfield by Charles Dickens). Fresh from the sea, quaffed with frothy beer.

“I reckon we cook them like whitebait.”
“I don’t want to eat the heads.”
So we ventured onto the internet to see what other people think. We decided to use a combination of this BBC recipe for timings and this one. The latter was perfect, the sprats were crispy. The BBC one was a bit disappointing; perhaps we hadn’t got the temperature of the frying pan high enough. The sprats were flabby and floury.

Although heads were included in the BBC recipe, D thought “ugh”. All heads had to be guillotined and guts removed. The sprats are coated in flour before this process so they are less slippery to handle. Despite this, the beheading turned out to be rather a slow and laborious process so we tackled it together.

450g of sprats would easily feed four for a main course (with starter) or six for a hearty starter. So even at full price sprats are worth considering – a great, special yet secretly budget meal. Incidentally the dogs loved the fish heads and guts (fried) for brunch in the morning.

Main meal cost for 3-4 (Danny really struggled to eat the leftovers. Generally he eats two or three times as much as me as he skips lunch most days)

Sprats 0.36p
Oil, flour, salt and pepper 0.15p
Salt and pepper 0.02p
Chips (Mc Cain’s) Crusty bread would be a great alternative 0.45p
Salad (gem lettuce with a chopped continental spring onion and lemon infused white wine vinegar and olive oil dressing) 0.50p

Total cost for a main course for 3-4 with budget priced fish £1.48
Full price sprats meal £3.60

The budget version is just under 50p a portion for a very special and delicious main course. And 90p a portion for full priced Tesco fish counter sprats – plus chips, salad and everything else for your main course. I personally would start with a light veggie soup and crusty bread. Followed by sprats with French fries and salad. Finishing with a homemade sorbet or even better homemade fresh fruit jellies. The latter is so easy if you start the day before. Everyone always seems to pounce on the small glasses with glee. Some good coffee and a homemade raspberry liqueur  go down exceptionally well if you want your guests to linger.

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  1. joyce anderson

    I am pleased to read that I am am not the only one that cleans and removes the heads. Bought some in tesco on their reduced counter. My husband and I think that they are a real delicacy. Having them for tea with crusty bread.

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