Sartagnado or poêlée or crespeou is the Provençal name for a dish of small fish dipped in flour and shallow-fried so close together that they form a kind of Mediterranean fish cake. Often in markets in Provence you will see a mound of small fish: anchovies, baby sardines, grey shrimps and tiny cuttlefish, sometimes labelled sartagnado, sold for making this dish.
Wash the fish under cold running water, drain well and dry on kitchen paper.
Spread the flour in a shallow dish or a plastic bag. Dip in each fish and remove when coated with flour.
Heat the oil in a wide pan and add the fish all at once, pressing them together slightly with the blade of a knife or a fish slice. Shake the pan now and again to prevent their sticking to the base. If necessary run the blade underneath the fish, which should cake together.
Fry for 7–8 minutes over a high heat and then turn over and fry the other side until golden.
Turn the sartagnado out on to a hot serving dish and season with salt and pepper. Add the vinegar to the pan and when hot sprinkle over the fish. Serve straight away.
© 1987 Geraldene Holt. All rights reserved.