Sprats – the popular Baltic sea fish

Today we are talking about sprats. In the Baltic Sea, cod, herring, and sprat are considered the most important species of fish. Many of you might not even know this little fish that I have been eating my whole life! They are up to 12,5 cm long, small, silvery and look like baby herrings. Sprats contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats which is considered beneficial to the humans diet. In Estonia sprats are super cheap but here in Ontario, Canada I haven´t found a single place where they sell fresh sprats, which I completely understand because we are not near the sea. One fish store cashier in Toronto (Runnymeade/Bloor area) even told me that even if they had fresh sprats, I could not afford it because it is super expensive, like 100 dollars 🙂 That made me laugh, that man obviously didn´t belong to the fish store or he knew nothing about sprats.

I just know that it is very popular in Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Eastern Europe – Poland, Russia, Ukraine. Fish of the different species of sprat are also found in various parts of the world including New Zealand, Australia.

IMG_0134You can bake, marinate, fry, bbq, dry or smoke them. I have never dried sprats myself but I have had some. Not my favourite, I´m not a fan of dried food general.

When baking you either fillet them or just gut them (remove the head and take the insides out) and lay them in a baking pan with salt, onions and butter and put them in the oven. And yes you leave the spine on but you can hardly taste it and it is very good for your eyes. At least that´s what my parents told me while growing up. I mean it´s a lot easier to make dinner when you don´t need to fillet 2kg of tiny fish 🙂 I have done it many times by the way. If you´re interested in a recipe, contact me!

IMG_0277When sprats are marinated in a mixture of black pepper, coriander seeds, bay leaves, salt and sugar, they are called spiced sprats ( in Estonian: vürtsikilu) and it is a famous Estonian delicacy. It´s almost like a symbol for Estonia, you can find spiced sprats sandwiches at every party alongside potato salad of course. Another very Estonian food.

Sprats, if smoked are delicious, I think if you want to try sprats, this is the way to start. I believe this way they are most delicious to people who have never tasted sprats before. I can actually say it from my experience since Rob had never tried sprats before we met and I have seen that he really enjoys smoked sprats. You can buy it in almost every grocery store in Canada, I picked mine up from FreshCo this morning 😉

IMG_0643The good thing about smoked sprats is that you don´t need to do anything with them, no cleaning, no nothing. Just open the can and eat them just like that or make a sandwich! 🙂 Smoked sprats are better with white bread and spiced sprats are better with rye bread. I cannot imagine eating spiced sprats with anything else. Also spiced sprats go really good with boiled eggs and green onion. If you don´t have an onion, you can always use dill!

How to clean spiced sprats? This is step by step introduction.

1. Prepare your work station. Use an old newspaper or a flyer. Put it underneath so when you´re done you can throw it away immediately without any mess.

step 12. Cut off the sprat’s head.

step 23. Cut the stomach open starting from the head to the tail.

step 34. Use your thumb to gut the fish.

step 45. Use your thumb to flatten the sprat from the spine, so it will come loose.

step 56. Gently pull off the spine with the tail. And ready it is. I always run it under the cold water for a second as well.

step 6It takes a while but if you like the fish, it´s worth it!

nsd7. Make your sandwich. Spread some butter on a rye bread, lay down your sprats, as many as you want. Second layer is for boiled egg slices and then either green onion or dill. Enjoy!

IMG_0557If you are not a fan of fish or don´t like to try “interesting” foods, this is not for you! Some people are more adventurous than others. I, myself, would like to try many different foods, but because of my allergies I cannot. I´m especially a big fan of Chinese food but most of the time they have peppers or honey in them which makes me very sad.

Rob was not impressed with the raw sprats and he only took one bite and could not go any further from there. Like I said. It all depends what you´re used to and I´m not forcing any foods on anybody. He wanted to try it, I made it. He tried it and didn´t like it. End of the story 🙂

2 thoughts on “Sprats – the popular Baltic sea fish

  1. Smoked sprats are surprisingly yummy. They taste better than sardines. I like them on toasted bread. Unfortunately, I rarely find them in American grocery stores, so I order them through the mail about once a year, during the holidays. The rest of the year I eat sardines, tuna, mackeral, etc.

    • Thank you for the comment! Interesting, where do you order them? I just recently found them in Starsky´s , it´s a Polish/European store, in Toronto….just waiting for the right time to open the can 😉 So excited!

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