Sprats and Avocado Sandwich

Sprats and Avocado Sandwiches

It seems lately that everyone is talking about Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode, “Live and Let Diet” where he espouses one of his favorite light meals, packed with heart-healthy goodies, nutrients and fats: marinated brislings over avocado mash on toasted bread.

Those of you who already eat tinned fishies like sardines, kippers, herring, anchovy and, our favorite, sprats, are probably already wondering whether or not there’s a ripe avocado in the cupboard. Just skip down to the end for my adaptation.

I want to talk to those of you who, like my mother, scrunch up your nose and look at a tin of fish as if it were the most horrible food product on earth.

I have only two questions for you: Do you like tuna fish sandwiches or tuna salad? Ever enjoyed fried salmon cakes?

Guess what: You just ate a tin of fish. It’s fishy, flaky and oh-so-good, isn’t it?

Now, take the tin of humble sprats. You know what’s inside? A different, smaller fish that’s been smoked and packed in oil. Since he’s a tiny little guy, he still has his bones (so does that salmon you buy in a can!) and probably his skin and some fins. They’re all completely edible. The canning process cooks everything enough so that it’s nice and soft – you’ll never even know unless you look.

And if you’re still a bit squicked out? Just smoosh ‘em all up into a mash! Now it looks just like a bit darker version of tuna salad. No problem there, right?

I’ll let you in on a little secret: Smoked tinned fish is much, much better than tinned tuna. There’s no comparison, at least not for me. I’d rather have sprats than tuna; the smoky, rich flavor just can’t be beat. And this open-faced sandwich is a marvelous way to try them out.

Personally, I absolutely love this sandwich. I can’t believe I never thought to match sprats to avocado! I originally tried the recipe the way Alton does it: with sardines. I found them too mild, too bland and absolutely requiring the apple cider vinegar and marinating Alton calls for. Sprats don’t need vinegar or marinating at all because they’re so intensely flavorful on their own.

And of course, being me, I strongly recommend you look for ones from Latvia. (This is easy, more than 75% of the sprats out there come from Latvia.) If at all possible, if you have the option, get “Rīgas zelts” — my personal favorite and one of the best brands. Don’t get the tins of fish in sauce. While they’re still good eats, I think the sauce would probably clash, especially if it’s sweet.

Sprats and Avocado Sandwich

Sprats and Avocado Sandwich [printable recipe]

Adapted from Alton Brown [original recipe here]
Serves 2

  • 160 g smoked sprats in oil (one 5.6 oz can)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • splash of lemon juice or a lemon, split into wedges
  • freshly-ground black pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 (about 1/2″ thick) slices of crusty, tasty bread – french, sourdough, country, etc.
  • 1 – 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

Pour off about 2/3rds of the oil in the tin into a small dish then empty the fish and remaining oil onto another, larger dish carefully1. Brush the reserved oil over the bread and toast.

If you don’t have a toaster oven, you probably shouldn’t put this into a regular 2- or 4-slice toaster. Instead, place a rack in the oven about 4″ from the element and turn it to Broil. Place the slices on a rack set on a baking sheet and broil for 2 – 3 minutes until golden brown2.

Halve the avocado and remove the pit. Mash the avocado – either in a small bowl or just inside the skin – and spread over the freshly toasted slices.

If you’re smooshing the sprats, mash those in the bowl with a few grinds of pepper, a pinch of salt and a generous splash of lemon juice. Scoop the mash onto each slice and spread evenly (and generously!) over the avocado.

Otherwise, lay the sprats neatly over the avocado, sprinkle a bit of salt and grind a bit of pepper over each sandwich. Squeeze the lemon over each then garnish with parsley.

Notes:

  1. Unless you intend to smoosh them, in which case just dump ‘em in and don’t worry about it.
  2. THIS WILL BURN. Be careful! Check it every 30 – 45 seconds after the first minute is up and remove as soon as it’s as golden as you want it.
This entry was posted in american, dairy-free, gluten-free, in progress, latvian, recipes, seafood, snack. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sprats and Avocado Sandwich

  1. Pingback: The Kitchen Mouse » Easy No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread

  2. Santiago says:

    Just tried this, tastes great!

  3. sharon says:

    I’m like your mom & I’m scared of canned, oily fish. I’ve eaten canned tuna, but not canned salmon. My husband and most of my friends like things like anchovies, kipper, etc. I never wanted to try it mainly because as you pointed out it still has all the skin, bones, fins, etc. which seems really gross. But in addition, I’m just worried because I don’t like smoked anything. Do they all taste very smoky? I never thought of mashing them before which might make them easier to try to eat, but if they’re very smoky I’m worried I won’t like them anyway. What do you think? also I hate vinegar so I can’t just cover them up with some kind of vinegary marinade or something.

    • Cori Rozentāle says:

      Hi Sharon! Thanks for commenting :)

      I’m not really sure, to be honest. If you don’t like smoked foods or vinegar, this probably isn’t the dish for you. Both flavors are fairly strong. Myself, I love smoked foods, absolutely adore them, so sometimes I wish the smoky taste was stronger and feel it’s not enough. Still I worry that it would be offputting to you. You can find sprats pate, which would eliminate the ick factor from whole fishies (though I will warn you, it looks just like cat food). It’s still a strong-tasting, smoky, oily fish.

      What I would recommend instead is to try a recipe like Easy Salmon Cakes instead. Canned salmon is generally not very oily and when mixed with other ingredients, the oil it does have helps pull the dish together. When you mash it, you’ll find it comes out looking just like tuna. Any bones will mostly disappear and are safe to eat. From there you can work up to a more oily and stronger-flavored canned fish – mackerel. Neither is usually smoked.

      If you really want to get started with smoked tinned fishies, try looking at your grocery for the different varieties that are packed in sauces. The tomato-basil ones are usually quite good, there’s less smoky taste and more sauce, no fins or fish parts. It’s usually steaks or fillets of fish marinating in sauce. Everything’s safe to eat, so just take a chunk, put it on a slice of hearty bread and give it a try!

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