Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fish without Chips. Caribbean Fry-Dry Sprats

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Hi, my name is Wizzy and …uhmm…I uhmmm… I ahhh….I’m addicted to fry dry! Said in a rush and with a sigh of relief. There I said it!

What?!!! It’s no longer fashionable to have this once traditional Caribbean breakfast. Who says? Obviously I didn’t get the memo. When was the last time you actually tasted a mess of these crispy, fried, sprats, hot off the frying pan with a squeeze of lime, or some tarter sauce? Come on now, don’t be coy. Don't play like you don’t know what I’m talking about.


They are ugly you say. Sure, after frying these, they look somewhat prehistoric, like they jumped out of the Cretaceous period and landed on your plate. I don’t actually look at them as I eat them. That would be ….well…bizarre. They kinda creep me out. But go on, admit it – you like them too don’t you? It’s okay, we are all friends here. You can say it. FRY DRY KICKS CEREAL’S BUTT FOR BREAKFAST ANY DAY. I can sense your disbelief. Heck, forget breakfast, around here we fry these up any old time of the day as a snack.

Fry Dry

Let me show you. Here. It’s like eating fish and chips (fries) but without the fries. The fish are themselves the fries. The bones are left in which adds to the crack, crackle, crunch factor. Cripsy fish fries, best served hot - dipping sauce entirely optional. Wouldn’t this be fabulous with a splash of malt vinegar and a sprinkle of sea salt? Perhaps I could tempt you with a ketchup-soy-pepper sauce combo?

Oh go on – you don’t like them anyway so what if I break the rules. While I’m at it, I might as well offer full disclosure. The traditional way is to dredge them in flour but I prefer them naked. Sacrilege. Maybe. I find they stay crunchier that way.

I hear you. This is a little too outlandish looking to be palatable. Look, I made an effort to plate it up all pretty and gourmet-like just to tempt you. On second thought it might be better that you don’t know what you are missing, so I won’t have to share. Forget I said anything. You are entirely correct in your first assumption. These are ugly so they must taste horrid. I will happily eat them for you.

Fry Dry Recipe
2 lbs sprats (innards removed)
1/2 lime to wash the fish
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 leaves of shadon beni or cilantro
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3 chive stalks finely chopped
3 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup vegetable oil  

Put fish in a bowl and wash by squeezing the juice of 1/2 a lime or lemon and rinse with water. Drain and pat dry with paper towel and set aside. 

Add choppped seasonings ( shadon beni, garlic, thymes, chives and salt) to fish. Set aside to marinate for 2 hours. You can prep your fish the night before and leave it to marinate overnight.

Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Fry fish in batches. Try not to crowd the pan with too many. Allow to cook for about 5-7 minutes on each side and then flip to cook evenly. Drain on paper towels. Serve with your favourite dipping sauce as an appetizer or for lunch with rice and dhal.

...another sort of sprat...


  1. Oh, I love fry dry, seasoned with a little curry powder in the flour (never tried it without the flour dredging). Just pop them in and crunch! With rice and dhal.
    (they look so pretty in their raw state in your photos though!)

  2. I love fried fish, eat with fingers... this weekend I've a barbecue party with friends, it'll be perfect for everyone... thank you!

  3. Koreans make a similar dish but with different flavorings and smaller fish. I think your flavor profile is so colorful and bright! Very Caribbean indeed!

  4. Oh I totally know what you mean about the fish being the chips themselves! I love this kind of fish-my mum makes something similar and I love crunching on the bones! :D

  5. Well I'm not even sure I could find sardines here -but will have to consider. Love the pic of the little one!!

  6. Wow, I've never seen fish prepared like that before. Interesting!! The little boy is too cute!

  7. I love sardines and have never tried them with the fry dry method. They look so crunchy and delicious!

  8. Oh, sardines! I haven't eaten any for ages because it's very hard to find fresh sardines here. Miss them very much.

  9. Fresh sardines are easily found here too! I deep fried most of the small fishes like yellowstrip scad,kembong fish, jewfish, fresh anchovies & many more! These are among all the fihes available here at the market every morning and also my favourite deep fry fishes. These are also best to eat with spicy dipping (combine chopped garlic, chopped bird eys chilies and light soy sauce). Have a great day!
    Cheers, Kristy
    p/s thanks for the visit. My finger is in good shape.

  10. Yum! I hardly cook with sardines, but this dish sounds wonderful. And I love sardines :P

  11. Love these little guys, but not for breakfast, thank you.
    My mother used to make them all the time!

  12. I've only seen sprats around here canned, have not tried the fried variety but after your fantastic description I can tell I am missing something special!

  13. I love fry dry! I haven't had them in so long.

    I remember my vacations in St. Vincent, we had them every morning, fresh off the boat. Took me 6 years to like fish again since I ate them everyday lol.

    Oh my, I think I'm going to try this soon. Thank you for posting this and bringing back these wonderful memories!

  14. Another similarity between our food. Fried fish for breakfast. The difference, we eat with warmed steamed rice and sambal kecap.

    Pronunciation of kecap is like ketchup. Sambal Kecap is a mixed between kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce), sliced bird eyes chilies, sliced shallots, freshly squeezed lime.

    The seasoning to marinate the fish is ground coriander seed, salt, garlic, and turmeric.

    I'm getting hungry now imaging your fry dry with sambal kecap. :)

  15. I dont actually eat seafood (except maybe tuna and whiting) but I've always found it LOOKS so appetising. And these look SO appetising! They look really crunchy and from the sounds of the recipe they'd have an amazing fresh flavour. Thanks for NEARLY making be a seafood lover!

  16. @my little space - you and I should hang out. Yum
    @frometomi-yes very popular in St Vincent and the Grenadines, they use sprats or a fish called Robin it has less bones.
    @Indonesia eats, Lorraine,Jessica - did not know this humble dish was so popular around the world:-)
    @Elizabeth-What do you mean NEARLY? Come to the Caribbean, we'll make you a lover of seafood yet.

  17. I love fried fish and the smaller the better! Great photos too!

  18. I don't really eat fish anymore, but looking at these photos is making me hungry. Have you ever eaten tri tri (tree tree>) fish? They are very small fish. As children when we visited our grandparents in St Vincent we would eat tr-tri cakes (fried batter with loads of the little fish in it). Yum.

    1. Yes I have had them a few times as a child.

  19. Oh I love sprats and whitebait........Last year when I was in London, I learnt that sprats are not sold by the weight but by the jug! I would have these anytime of day, epecially with the photo of the fried fish, lemon slices, sauce and thyme sprig. Rocking!

  20. Thanks for sharing this interesting way to cook sardine!

  21. The colour of the sardines is wonderful, you take fabulous photos. I would love to try your fish!

  22. Jumped out of the Cretaceous - what an amazing description! Love this post.

  23. I love sardines but never got fresh ones like these. They look lovely "fry-dry"! I will definitely try this way if I get hold of fresh sardines.

  24. Have you ever had Shishamo? This reminds of that. I love shishamo-- crispy and salty and you eat the whole thing.

  25. My husband and kids would love it!! :)

  26. Hi Wizzy,

    that recipe sounds not only interesting but intriguent too. I'm always looking for recipe with fish which are not (european) mainstream. Will try that when I can get some fresh sprats.


  27. We never had a name for it but we used to eat this all the time in the Persian Gulf! Not for breakfast though - that's just weird. ;-)

  28. I definitely love fish being prepared this way... crispy yummy!

  29. My husband and kids love it this way too, delicious recipe! :)

  30. I love sardines, cooked in any way, fried though seems to be the best and this recipe looks great. All I would love to be doing now is sitting by the sun sipping some beer and having your dish for snack ;)
    BTW I get confused with sardines, sprats, herring, pilchard? Are these all the same kind of fish?