660.—SPRATS. (Fr.—Melettes or Harenguets.)
Sprats should be cooked very fresh. Their condition can be ascertained by their eyes, which should be bright. Wipe them dry; fasten them in rows by a skewer run through the eyes; dredge with flour, and broil them on a gridiron over a nice clear fire. The gridiron should be rubbed with suet. Serve very hot, with cut lemons and brown bread and butter.
Time.—3 or 4 minutes. Average Cost, 1d. to 3d. per lb. Allow 1 lb. for 3 persons. Seasonable from November to March.
The Sprat (Fr. melette).—This well-known migratory little fish is allied to the herring, and was formerly supposed to be the young of that fish. There are, however, specifically distinct characteristics which distinguish the sprat on close examination from the herring, the chief being the serrated or notched edge of the abdomen, the greater prominence of the ventral fins, and differences in the structure of the teeth. The sprat abounds in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Seas, and on many parts of the British coasts, where in the winter and spring they appear in immense shoals, and are captured in vast quantities. The flesh of the sprat is wholesome and well-flavoured. Large quantities of sprats are used by the farmers near the coasts for manure. Sprats are also dried and cured in a similar manner to red herrings. In Scotland the sprat is called the Garvie.
661.—SPRATS, TO PRESERVE.
Ingredients.—½ a peck of sprats, 1 lb. of salt, 2 ozs. of baysalt, 2 ozs. of saltpetre, 1 oz. of sal-prunella, a little cochineal.
Method.—Pound all the ingredients, except the sprats, in a mortar, then put the sprats in a pan in layers with the seasoning, press them tightly down, and cover close. They will be ready for use in 5 or 6 months.
To Choose Sprats.—Choose those with a silvery appearance, brightness being a sign of freshness.
Method.—To make sprat-paste, which is similar to anchovy-paste, bake the sprats with a little butter in an earthenware dish, remove the heads, tails, backbone and skin, pound the fish well in a mortar, and rub through a fine sieve. Season well with salt, cayenne and pepper, add a good pinch of ground mace, and anchovy-essence to taste. Press into small pots, and cover with clarified butter.
Time.—5 or 6 minutes. Seasonable from November to March.
663.—STURGEON, BAKED. (Fr.—Esturgeon rôti au Vin Blanc.)
Ingredients.—2 lb. of sturgeon, salt and pepper to taste, 1 small bunch of herbs, the juice of ½ a lemon, ¼ of a lb. of butter, ½ a pint of white wine.
Method.—Cleanse the fish thoroughly, skin it, and remove the inside. Have ready a large baking-dish, lay the fish in it, sprinkle over the seasoning and herbs very finely minced, and moisten it with the lemon-