Clean them; take off the heads; put them into a deep dish, and cover them with vinegar and water, equal quantities of each. To a quart of liquid, put half an ounce of whole black pepper, a little allspice, two or three bay-leaves, some salt, and an onion. Tie paper over the dish, and bake them in a cool oven, or do them over a slow fire in a water bath. Herrings may be done in this way. Both will keep good some weeks.
Wash and dry your sprats, and lay them as level as you can in a stewpan, and between every layer of sprats put three peppercorns, and as many allspice, with a few grains of salt; barely cover them with vinegar, and stew them one hour over a slow fire; they must not boil: a bay-leaf is sometimes added. Herrings or mackerel may be stewed the same way.
If you have not a sprat gridiron, get a piece of pointed iron wire as thick as 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 vour 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.
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 receipt for cabbages will answer as well for sprouts, only they will be boiled enough in fifteen or twenty minutes.