It's sprat season. Not that it receives much attention. These little oily fish can't really compete with the glamour of the game season. But what they lack in glamour they make up for in taste, and versatility.
It was the missus who spotted them for sale in Asda, at 45p a pack. There was about 20 of them in the 225g pack, which is a reasonable portion when split between two.
Traditional recipes keep things simple and don't involve much more than frying them and serving them with brown bread and butter - wedge of lemon optional. But we fancied something with a bit more kick, specifically a kick of chilli.
We could have gone Indian, oily fish seems to work really well with curry flavours. Or Moroccan, with a rub of ras el-hanout. But we went instead for Chinese.
The chilli kick was delivered by the best chilli sauce I have ever tasted, made by the missus with bird's eye chillies, rice wine vinegar, sugar, lime juice and dried chillies. Shop bought stuff pales in comparison. It was sharper than it was sweet, and perfectly hot.
This worked really well with the little sprats, which were simply dusted in flour and fried.
We had some noodles hanging around at the back of the cupboard so just chopped up some onion, garlic, ginger and peppers and put that together with a bit of soy and some more lime.
I honestly don't think we could have had a better meal for about 40p a portion. It was such a good way of getting some oily fish into our diet, which we're not very good at, and one that didn't break the bank. It was also a very satisfying dish for the determined carnivore, as sprats must be the biggest fish you can eat whole. Like whitebait for grown-ups. Don't waste them on catching a mackerel.