Dinner for two for a pound: sprats in the oven

Dinner for two for a pound: sprats in the oven

By 07/10/2012

People often say they cannot afford to buy fish as it is too expensive. OK, it can be pricey but we don't always have to resort to buy cheap frozen fish or fish fingers to get our omega 3.

In the UK I find that wild, local fish, caught in the sea is easily available and at a good price too. For instance consider having a go at the humble sprat.

When I saw it at the fish counter the other day I immediately thought of trying to cook it in the same way I do sardines.

When I am in Italy I often have sardines, my children are mad about them and sprats are just the same size (English sardines are bigger and different in flavour, but still tasty though); so I thought I would buy half a Kilo and put them in the oven.

Sprats don't seem to be very popular but they are a wild fish (as opposed to farmed) and that makes all the difference in taste and goodness. it is rich in omega 3, Vitamin D and B12.

The only thing is that it needs to be consumed as fresh as possible, ideally within 24 hours after being caught, as it deteriorates quickly.

This is really a typical meal of "la cucina povera", a meal for the poor. Add some crunchy bread and a salad and you get a healthy and nutritious dinner.

Come on, have a go and tell me how you have found it!

  • Prep Time : 45 minutes
  • Cook Time : 30 minutes



Gut and wash the sprats. On a baking tray lay some baking paper. Lay the fish on it, sprinkle some salt on the fish and breadcrumbs and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Cooking sprats with breadcrumbs and olive oil

Cook at 200C for 30 minutes until they look nice and golden.

Serve with salad and crunchy bread.

Cooking sprats with breadcrumbs and olive oil

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28 Responses to Dinner for two for a pound: sprats in the oven

  1. unikorna

    You’re right, I don’t like sprat but…wow you made it look sooooo good that, now, I shall not rest until I try some. You’re a great cook Alida, honestly. You’re that kinda cook that can make anything taste good.

  2. Catherine

    Speaking as a sardine lover, these look goood!

  3. Cuisinedeprovence

    Makes me hungry!

  4. cquek

    Faaaaaancy! These look amazingly nice.

  5. Anuja

    Mmmmmm this looks good!! BTW i love your Italy photographs and post. Love the write up also. Really well done Alida!

  6. Our Growing Paynes

    I’ll have to check this out when I’m in the UK….

  7. Javelin Warrior (@javelinwarrior)

    I’ve never heard of sprats before, Alida – but I love the simple preparation and that this is a wild vs. farmed fish. These look so tasty and I can always rely on you for amazing seafood… Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. Catherine

    Dear Alida,
    This is a healthy and very delicious meal. I love dishes like this. Blessings dearest. Catherine xo

  9. la cucina di Molly

    Hai ragione per magiare del pesce che fa tanto bene alla nostra salute, non occorre comprare quelli costosi, il pesce azzurro oltre a far bene in quanto dotato di omega 3, è anche gustoso ed economico! Ottima ricetta la tua, l’adoro! Un bacione cara!

  10. Claudia

    Sai che mio zio ci dice sempre che questi sono i migliori nel campo nutrizionale, ottima scelta. Baci da me

  11. claudia @whats cookin italian cuisine

    If my mom and dad were still aroundthey would have flipped over these! The color and browned crust is deliightful!

  12. Angie@Angie's Recipes

    I miss fresh seafood and fish. I come from a coastal city in China and we have abundance of fresh fish and seafood as my brother goes fishing every weekend. Besides that, you can get live seafood in markets. But not here in Germany….;-( Well, I can live on smoked salmon and German bread ;-))

    • My Little Italian Kitchen

      German bread is excellent though, but I think your baking is better than any bread you could get in any shop!

  13. Mich - Piece of Cake

    I’ve never seen sprats locally either… but I think your way of baking fish can be done with many other varieties of fish, and I can use it on fish I find here.

  14. lazylauramaisey

    I love fresh cheap fish. Squid is my go-to fish if I’m trying to budget a bit but want to eat fabulous food. I get a bit of fennel and fennel seeds and fry them. A squeeze of lemon, a dash of white wine vinegar and throw in the squid. Toast some breadcrumbs and put them on top to serve. Amazing.

  15. AlexCROWBORO

    Alida, I am making your dish for lunch. My daughter had fun cutting the heads off:-).

  16. Pingback: mylittleitaliankitchen.com – Italian seafood feast for celebrations

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  18. Derek

    I love fish of all kinds. But I think the best fish from the seas is sprats. They are very pretty, very easy to deal with (though a bit messy), they have very little waste. The bones and skin are no problem – just eat everything except head and guts. They are very, very tasty and above all they are healthy.

    I bake mine with lots of finely chopped mixed herbs and garlic and olive oil. Add a bit of salad and some fine bread and you have the best food in the world. I do not suppose our queen has eaten sprats, but it is her big loss.

    • Alida

      I agree! They are so cheap, so good for you and really really tasty. No need to buy expensive fish. I love them with warm polenta during the cold winter months 🙂

  19. Antony Glynn

    My recipe is:
    Pull off the head, pulling out any guts that come with it, rinse in cold water, dry on kitchen paper and then toss in a wok in a little oil and butter. When the sprats look as if they are going to start breaking up, they are cooked. Obviously, herbs, garlic or other stuff can be included; I usually only add salt and freshly ground black pepper; sometimes I toss them in seasoned flour.

    • Alida

      That sounds great! I love the idea of cooking them in a wok and it seems very straightforward as well. Many thanks for sharing this!

  20. Brenda

    I have bought sprats for the 1st time. I am going to try your recipe looks delicous

    • Alida

      Thank you, enjoy!

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