Sardeles pastes: The Verdict
It was two days before I had the chance to taste the sprats masquerading as sardines properly. I had one after a day, and judged that the salt needed to do its work for a little longer.
Scraping the salt from the first fish, now slightly smaller than when it went into the salt, I attempted the technique for preparing them that Matt Barrett gives on his pages. Messy. The fish split in an unexpected way, leaving me with its top half in one hand; the next one did much the same, only more messily.
Resorting to a knife or two, I cut fillets from a few more, sloshed olive oil and lemon juice on them, and poured a tiny ouzo, purely for tasting purposes.
Not bad, since you ask. Not as salty as the large sardines had become, and delicious with the oil and lemon juice on them. Sips of ouzo were a delight, as well. They do go together very well indeed.
You can probably see the fillets were too small for me to get the skin off them properly. I think the ideal sized fish for this would be a little larger than a sprat, but a lot smaller than the first batch of sardines I used. I expect Greek sardines would be just that little bit better, too. In a taverna or ouzerie. With nothing to do for the rest of the day. Well, a chap can dream...