Not many meals linger in my mind post consumption. But the hype leading up to and actual experience of eating fried smelt for the first time was on par. Unfortunately, smelt does not make the menu at most eateries because it’s considered cheap and doesn’t conjure up images of fine dining. Luckily, smelt is readily available for purchase is most supermarkets making it easy to prepare at home.
- 1 pound smelt
- 1 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- cooking oil for frying
- Set up a wire rack with paper towels underneath to place the fish after frying.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, garlic powder, and salt.
- Coat the smelt with the flour mixture from above, making sure that each fish is fully covered.
- Pour about 1/2 inch of oil into a pan, making sure there’s enough oil to cover the smelt while cooking. The oil is ready for frying when it reaches 350º.
- Fry a few fish at a time, making sure there is enough room left in the pan so that the smelt don’t touch in the oil. Cook each batch for about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and place on the wire rack to drain the excess oil.
- Depending on where you shop, smelt can be found with or without the head. Because it’s a small fish, smelt can be eaten whole so this usually a matter of preference. However, a bitter after taste is a possibility if the innards aren’t removed.
- Unfortunately, this is based on personal experience. As you can see in the photo above, the head was kept on. Research on the subject says that smelt are plant eaters. This means that there’s not too much to worry about since there’s generally minimal toxins in their bodies. It’s the whole “you are what you eat” concept. However, if you want to be on the safe side, remove the head and innards.
- Serve a dipping sauce on the side. It can be something as easy as a side of ranch, thousand island, or ketchup.