If you have not a sprat gridiron, get a piece of pointed iron wire as thick as a packthread, and as long as your gridiron is broad; run this through the heads of your sprats, sprinkle a little flour and salt over them, put your gridiron over a clear, quick fire, turn them in about a couple of minutes; when the other side is brown, draw out the wire, and send up the fish with melted butter in a cup.
Obs.–That sprats are young herrings, is evident by their anatomy, in which there is no perceptible difference. They appear very soon after the herrings are gone, and seem to be the spawn just vivified.
The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comments: Sprats are small fish, comparable in size, habits and manner of treatment to smelts which are caught in coastal and Great Lakes waters. Now that we have the main ingredient straight we switch to the matter of the “pointed iron wire as thick as a packthread,” which is not very thick at all. Apparently what are wanted here are thin metal skewers, run through the length of the fish. Just putting it through their heads sideways would seem to leave them dangling down over the fire in such a way as to incinerate the tails and leave the heads virtually raw. You are of course free to whip up a batch of sprat sushi, but we fear that is not the treatment Dr. Kitchiner had in mind.