Serves 4

With a glass of rosé and the accompanying sound of breaking waves, a fritto misto di mare is a perfect lunch dish. That may not be possible if you live in London like me, but we can all dream, can't we? Small fish, such as whitebait, sprats, small sardines and smelts or fillets of these fish, can all be cooked like this. Crevettes gris, the small shrimps used for potting that also come in a pink version, or small whole prawns that become completely edible, shell and all once fried, are also ideal small fry. Even peeled tiger prawns and small squid can join the party too.

I've often used the tiny fish that they sell frozen in the Taj stores in London's Brick Lane. I don't know what they are or where they're from but suspect they're farmed.

A lovely sauce to serve with fritto misto at this time of the year is mayonnaise mixed with some pounded up wild garlic leaves and a squeeze of lemon. Or mix chopped spring herbs into mayonnaise.

400g small fish (whitebait, small sardines, sprats, prawns, smelts etc)
Milk for coating
Flour for dusting
Salt and cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil or oil for deep-frying

Pre-heat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep fat fryer. Have three flat containers ready - one with the flour seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper, one with the milk and the third for the fish once coated.

Coat the fish in the flour, shaking off any excess, then put them in the milk, draining off any excess then put them back through the flour, again shaking off any excess.

Carefully drop into the hot fat in two or three batches and cook for 3-4 minutes, removing with a slotted spoon and draining on some kitchen paper when golden.

Serve with the suggested sauces or your own concoction, and quartered lemons to squeeze over.

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