Pan Roasted Smelts
These little seasonal fish (see this post for more information) call out to me every time I see them in the fish market in winter and early spring. Relatives of salmon and trout, they are caught off the Atlantic coast in winter where they gather in preparation for their spring spawning run up the rivers and streams.
This preparation is a traditional Italian dish, typically served without sides as a fish course. The garlic, lemon and oregano flavor the pan juices, which are best when mopped up with a crusty Italian bread.
Pan Roasted Smelts
6 servings as an appetizerIngredients
- 1 pound cleaned smelts* – washed and patted dry
- 1 cup flour for dredging
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Juice from a half lemon
- 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
1. Heat the oil and butter over medium high heat in a sauté pan large enough for all the fish in a single layer.
2. Dredge the fish in the flour.
3. Add the garlic and oregano to the pan and then the fish. Cook the fish until brown, about 90 seconds per side. Then sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper, splash in the wine, cover the pan, and simmer on medium heat for about 6 minutes, turning the fish once.
4. When the fish is done, squeeze the lemon over the fish and place the fish on a serving plate. Spoon the pan juices over the fish and serve, garnished with minced parsley and a grinding of pepper.*Note. "Cleaned smelts" means the guts have been removed and the heads, including the gills, have been removed. The fish market usually does this for you. For this dish I also like to remove the lateral and dorsal fins with a small sharp knife (remove the base of the fins, below the skin, as well) as these are inedible.