A Dish of Crisp Little Fish

This dish was often served to visitors to the Isle of Wight in the nineteenth century. It was accompanied by thin slices of brown bread and butter, watercress and English sauce (hollandaise) and never by chips or any form of potatoes. The fish should be mixed and traditionally includes a few prawns or pieces of lobster.


  • 4 small whiting or flounders
  • 8 small herring
  • 4 very small mackerel
  • ¼ lb (120 g) cooked shelled prawns or the flesh of ½ shelled lobster
  • cups light batter for coating
  • Oil
  • 1 lemon, cut in 8 thin slices


Clean the fish and remove the heads and tails. Pour the well-mixed batter into a shallow dish and lay all the fish in it, turning and rolling them gently until they are thinly coated all over. Do the same with the prawns or lobster but keep them separate.

The fish can be deep or shallow fried as preferred, but oil must be used as butter does not give sufficient crispness, Put the fish in the oil only when it is really hot (about 400°F, 200°C) and fry them very crisp and brown. Add the prawns or lobster at one side of the pan and fry for 2 or 3 minutes only. Longer cooking makes them tough.

Lift all the fish and shellfish on to a warmed flat dish and serve at once, garnished with slices of lemon.