I had a craving for something crispy and fried the other day. Typically, I reach for oysters or salt cod fritters but not this time. This day would be different. This day I would crisp-up a batch of smelts.
In terms of flavor, smelts have an oily, rich flesh with a delicate texture. They can be eaten whole, including the head, viscera and bones. For this reason, I decided to make smelt “fries.”
By the way, smelts are highly sustainable according to Seafood Watch.
2 pounds of smelts
2 tablespoons for sea salt
1 tablespoon of freshly cracked black pepper
2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons of dried thyme
1 cup of whole wheat flour
Grape seed oil for frying, about 2 cups
Rinse the smelts and pat them dry, careful not to remove all of the moisture from this fish. The residual moisture will help the flour adhere. Place the fish in a large bowl and add the sea salt, black pepper, paprika and toss. When well coated with the seasonings add the flour to the blow and gently toss to ensure that all of the fish have a nice thick layer of flour.
Remove the fish from the bowl and give them light shake to remove any excess flour before laying them on a paper towel to dry for 10 minutes. This will allow the flour to for a crust. Heat the oil to 375 degrees. When the oil has reached the right temperature, drop the fish in one-by-on, careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry the fish for about 4 minutes or until the desired level of crispness is achieved. Remove the fish and allow them to drain on paper towels. Enjoy!