Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fried Smelt

I bough a package of little fishies at Major Market, dreaming of crunchy fried smelt. I had never made them before, heck, never even had them before, but I knew I wanted them.

The only thing I was slightly worried about was the fact that they were whole. And not gutted. Did I want to take the time to gut and clean? Not really. And tons of people have eaten them whole and not died. So I went for it.

My MIL said that you can soak the little fishies in lemon juice prior to cooking to remove some of the fishiness, so that's what we did. After a quick soak, they were rinsed, because I didn't want an overpowering lemon flavor.

I used a package of Zatarain's Fish Fry, augmenting the seasoning with a little black pepper and garlic powder. The Fish Fry was well-seasoned to begin with, but I can't seem to cook without adding more pepper and garlic to almost everything.

Still moist from their rinse, the fishies were dragged through the Fish Fry, until nicely coated.
















Fried 'em up in a little canola oil, et voila. Crunchy, fishy (in a good way!), salty. They kind of reminded me of the dried squid I get occasionally at 99 Ranch Market. I could eat these like popcorn.

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18 comments:

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

mmmm. Love fried smelt. You made them seem real easy! Must try those!

Vicki said...

Hi Judy - They're easy, just a little time-consuming 'cause there's so many of the little buggers :)

Kitt said...

Oh yeah, that's a Great Lakes tradition, smelt. Not my cuppa, but I have a thing about fish bones.

Vicki said...

Hey Kitt - Strangely enough, I never had these when I lived by the Lake. And these were so small I couldn't even tell there were bones!

Betts said...

Wow! I can't believe you can eat them whole. I've never tried them either, but with your rave review, I might have to.

Vicki said...

Hey Betts - Go for it! The worst that can happen is that you don't like them, and need to have a drink to get rid of the taste :)

Bob said...

Looks great! Never had them myself, but I'd try them out. I'm not a huge fish fan, but sometimes I surprise myself. Especially when it's fried... :)

Vicki said...

Hey Bob - They're worth a try, but if you shy away from fishy things, I'd suggest tartar or chile sauce for dipping :)

kat said...

There's a dish that brings back memories. Growing up in Michigan my dad & I would go smelt fishing (I always remember it being night) & then my mom would frying them up right when we got home, what a treat

Vicki said...

Hi Kat - I missed out on the fishing part, but I definitely enjoyed the frying & eating part!

Art said...

When I was about 12, my dad would come home from work about 9PM, we'd pack up the nets and go down to the Chicago Naval Armory pier and go smelt fishing when they were running. We'd be there til about 1 or 2AM. The smelts weren't "fishy". The ones from the grocery are. I guess what they say about fresh fish is true. My mother would gut them and fry them with a light flour coating. Mmmmmmmm.

Vicki said...

Hi Art - I wonder if I'm the only person who grew up near the Lakes that never went smelt fishing! Need to find out if they run in SoCal :)

Little Bro said...

This is what we used to do with the grunion we caught! Except grunion have a really fishy smell so smelt is definitely the better way to go!

Vicki said...

Hey Little Bro - My MIL swears you can remove the fishy smell by soaking in either lemon juice or buttermilk. These were still definitely fishy, but in a good way :)

Big Brother Cooks said...

People tend to poopoo bait fish-looking fish, but I say if they're edible for fish, they're edible for me. Looks great!

Vicki said...

Hey Big Bro - I like the way you think :)

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

My mom used to make fried smelts a lot when we were growing up. I love them! I'm making these the next time I see smelts at the store.

Vicki said...

Hi SGCC - This was my 1st time having them, and I'm already considering doing it again :)