During the Soviet times, sprats were considered one of the main attributes of the festive table: small smoked fish in a large amount of golden butter went both as decoration for sandwiches and as an addition to mashed potatoes. However, few people understand what fish sprats are made of. Today it is very difficult to find the very real sprats - is it possible to cook them at home to remember the forgotten taste?
Sprats are what kind of fish?
The very first jar was produced in the last decade of the 19th century by the Maurice Riga factory&Co, was named "Royal Sprats." The dish was recommended to be consumed without heating, i.e. it went like an appetizer. At that time, sprats of the same name were packed in cans, which belonged to the herring family and had very small sizes. In length, it barely reached 18 cm (most often the indicator is within 12-15 cm), the weight did not exceed 12 g. Baltic sprat was a European subspecies. The fish was actively found in the Baltic Sea, which contributed to its subsequent use.
However, later, not only sprat became the main component of the dish of the same name: banks began to lay herring, sprat from the Caspian Sea, young little herring, and capelin. Thus, under the label "sprats" could be hiding absolutely any small fish, which is well smoked and filled with oil. Today this product is perceived that way. But if you want to know what real sprats are (like real Italian Parmesan), look for Riga's - today this is the only way not to get “just small fish in oil”.
- Separate nuance - storage. With sprats, a peculiar "reverse" principle works: they, like wine, become only better with time. A jar that is one or one and a half years old contains a more delicious and fragrant product.
- An interesting point: the method of laying sprat varies depending on the time of year. Winter fish always fit back up, and summer - belly. Rows intersect, among themselves, carcasses are located at an angle.
The difficulty of finding good sprats is complicated by another nuance: the original product, without receiving any additional processing, underwent a smoking procedure, during which a dangerous substance was produced - benzopyrene, belonging to the carcinogenic class 1 hazard. According to professionals, it is prone to accumulation, and in 100 g of sprats it contains as much as 4 cigarettes. For this reason, sprats produced in Russia only have the additive "liquid smoke", while the fish itself is not smoked, but simply canned in oil. It changes the taste, aroma and even the shade of the finished product, but this technique is also not safe.
European products are still being prepared using standard technology, through smoking, but it is impossible to find Riga sprats in Russia in 2015. All factors in the aggregate led to the fact that more and more people became interested in the way of self-preparation of the cherished fish.
How do sprats at home?
Immediately it should be understood that without smoking get the same store result will not work. Is it possible to use liquid smoke, but this is not the best way out, and the finished product will not differ from low-quality jars with “small fish in oil”. However, there are some good recipes for homemade sprat from sprat or sprat, one of which is suggested below. Long-term storage of such fish is contraindicated, but it turns out so tasty that it is unlikely to live even until tomorrow.
- small fish (ideally - sprat) - 700 g;
- black tea without additives -2 tbs.
- vegetable oil - 600-700 ml;
- salt, pepper - 3 tbsp.
- Select a good carcass up to 9-10 cm long, free from damage, dark spots. Remove the heads.
- At the same time, brew strong tea: pour the indicated amount of dry leaf with 200 ml of boiling water, cover with the lid, wait 5-7 minutes.
- Rinse the fish well, pat dry with a paper towel, rub it with salt and pepper, spread it tightly on a baking sheet covered with parchment.
- From the glass, collect tea with spoons and carefully pour it over the fish, trying to sprinkle it rather than pour. Salt and pepper should not be washed away, otherwise they will not give anything to the dish.
- The same thing needs to be done with the oil, but it is poured out in full, streaming between the carcasses. The oil should overlap the fish, so that it may need a little more.
- Place the pan in the oven preheated to 150 degrees, leave for 90-100 minutes. After that, you need to turn off the oven, open the door, but do not remove the pan until the product is completely cooled.
- Store recommended in a glass container on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
Using the same technology, one can prepare sprats from capelin or any other small fish at home, or even take larger carcasses, but they will need to be gutted. However, professionals still remind that sprats, and not just smoked fish in oil, can only be considered a product based on sprats or sprat, as the one closest to it. All the rest is just a variation on the subject. However, cooking is good because it allows you to make any experiments.