21/09/2013

Sprats & Root Hash

SpratsBreakfast.

During the working week, I tend not to have anything in the morning and break my overnight fast around noon with a light salad, egg and some fish. Our main meal is in the evening.

Weekends are different ...

Eating well in the morning and enjoying a later dinner works well for us. With a breakfast meal ready, we enjoy a leisurely morning with the BBC's 'Saturday Kitchen' and then get about our day.

Today, is sprats.

Sprats, Latin Sprattus, a distinct genus within the same family as sardine and herring. These sprats are from the Baltic. Needless to say they are similarly oily and loaded with good omega-3. Highly anti-inflammatory, they make perfect partners with a light leafy salad and great bedfellows to a good, starchy hash.

Today is hash.

Hash is simply whatever veggies you have diced and fried. Root hashes can be from any sort of root: potato, carrot, parsnip, celeriac, daikon, beetroot, the list goes on. Today, I went with potatoes and carrot. Tomorrow (sprats, again) I may well go with beetroot.

Ingredients

Sprats. No sprats? Anchovies would be good, small sardines, small herrings or whitebait would do.

Potatoes, carrot, onion, garlic, chilli, black pepper, sea salt, goose fat and spinach. Marjoram to cook, parsley to garnish.

Yoghurt, mustard and lemon juice.

Hash

Dice up the roots and sauté off in your favourite paleo fat - goose fat, for me, carrots and potatoes as the roots in a cast iron skillet.

Give the skillet a good grind of black pepper, a pinch of sea salt and a sprinkle of dried marjoram. Oregano would do fine.

Continue to sauté over a medium heat until the roots are starting to soften.

Add a chopped onion, sliced garlic and a couple of chillies, shredded.

Sauté on until soft, which might take another 20 minutes, or so.

Lay a generous handful of spinach per person into the skillet and let it wilt.

Meanwhile, a sauce ...

Sauce

Let's stick to the classics, eh?

Mustard works so well with this kind of fish. From mustard vinaigrette with herring to mustard cream over sardines to ... yoghurt and mustard.

Per person, a couple of heaped tablespoons of your favourite yoghurt and a half teaspoon of mustard. Good squeeze of lemon juice and stir together.

Use whatever yoghurt you like. Greek, regular cow, perhaps goat, sheep, even. I used a gorgeous sheep yoghurt from Dorset, here in the UK. English mustard, too; none of that 'orrible French stuff or (Good Lord!) American. Puh! Mustard should be English and should be Colman's. Lemons? Amalfi, naturally.

Now the sprats ...

Sprats

Eat them whole. Heads, tails, guts, the lot. Eat them whole.

If you're at all queasy about heads, cut them off. Actually, from there you can gut the fish by squeezing the belly up to where the head was. The guts will come out. Wash and you're done.

Otherwise, just make a small incision behind the gills and squeeze the belly up to the head to draw the guts.

Or, leave them in ... it's all good flavour!

You can pan-fry sprats or you can grill them. I prefer the grill. You say tomato, I say tomato. I'm British, and a grill for me is an overhead heat source: broiler, salamander.

Pan frying can be quite violent, leaving your sprats broken up and the fats over-cooked. Grill 'em. Lay your sprats out on a piece of kitchen foil and place under the grill on high. Two or three minutes each side is perfect.

Sprats

Timing is less important than how they look - the skins should be just bubbling. Watch the fish, not the clock.

Serve

Fold the wilted spinach through the hash and plate up.

Sauce over, then the sprats. More black pepper, perhaps some more sea salt, certainly some flat leaf parsley to garnish.

I popped a couple of figs alongside ...

Sprats over root hash with yoghurt mustard sauce.

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