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« Christmas Dinner Menu: Wood-Roasted Standing Rib of Beef | Main | Porcini Cream Lasagna »

Crispy Fried Smelts

Crispy Fried Smelts

Here's one more way to prepare your Christmas smelts. Battered and fried crisp, this is the most popular way to cook them, and no wonder...these little guys are addictive.

Smelt_12 Other smelt recipes   on Stephencooks:
Pan Roasted
With Pasta & Garlic

1 lb smelts, cleaned, headed
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup fine corn meal
1/2 tsp salt
oil for frying

Mix the salt, the flours and the corn meal. Soak the smelts 30 minutes in cool water, then drain well. Dredge them in the flour/corn meal mixture. Allow them to rest for at least 15 minutes. Deep fry in 375º oil, a few at a time. Drain on a rack and keep warm in a 200º oven while doing subsequent batches. See deep frying information below.

Serve with lemon wedges and, if desired, tartar sauce. Here are two favorite recipes for tartar sauce:

Tartar Sauce 1

1/4 C Hellmans mayonnaise
6 green cocktail olives chopped
1/2 small onion, minced
1 T parsley, minced
lemon juice to taste
salt, hot sauce to taste

Mix all ingredients.

Tartar Sauce II

2 T Hellmans mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 T capers, minced
1 T Heinz sweet relish
3 T scallions, minced
1 T tarragon, minced
salt and hot sauce to taste

Mix all ingredients.

Note: deep frying at home can be dangerous. It can also produce unsatisfactory results. To avoid these outcomes, follow these rules:
• Be SURE whatever you put in the oil is really dry - wet items cause splatter, which can burn you or, even worse, throw a mist of oil droplets into the air that can easily and explosively catch fire.
• Never fill your pot more than half full of oil.
• Keep the oil temperature as constant as possible, between 350 and 375º.  Use a thermometer and fry in very small batches, since when you put food in the oil the temperature will drop quickly.
• Use a nice long set of tongs to put food in and remove it.
• Drain fried items on a rack, not paper towels.
• Avoid distractions when you're frying: you need to pay attention! A pot of 375º oil is at least as dangerous as a power saw, so treat it with the same level of respect!



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Very good safety advice. I know most people only think of the calories and the mess with deep frying, forgetting how really dangerous it can be.

I haven't had these little babies in years. But I do love them. Better than popcorn.

Stephen, you know how much I love the little fishies. Those fried smelts look delicious, just like your other smelt recipes. Try frying them in olive oil, like they do in Spain. Although they don't get quite as dark, the olive oil adds a nice flavor.

I want to wish you a happy holiday season. Your blog has been fun to follow and I look forward to reading your posts and recipes in the coming year. Cheers!

OH wow... they look so ready to be crunched into - with a cold lager of course. Im so impressed with foodie blogs out there. Check out my christmas menu... asian-style.


The smelts look great. I've had a yen for fish and chips lately and plan on fixing it tomorrow night.

Hope your Christmas was a good one!

I squeeze lime on these and serve with roasted corn and rice.. taste awesome...with a southwest flavor

Hi Stephan, great recipe and a huge Christmas Eve favorite! I'd like to invite you to participate in our "Seven Fishes Feast" with this recipe if you would like. Happy Holidays

Forget the tartar sauce or any mayo-based thing. All you need is a bottle of hot sauce and a bottle of beer.

Haven't had smelts since I was a little girl - now a spritely 79. I am going to try this recipe.

Hi Stephen --I just discovered smelts. I haven't been able to find out if you need to clean them first (spine, roe, etc) or whether you can eat the whole fish after frying. Thanks.

Hi Vincent...

As mentioned in the recipe, the smelts should be cleaned. This means that the guts have been removed from the body cavity. Also the head should be removed, including the gills. If you buy them from a fish market this will usually be done for you. Traditionally smelts are eaten bones and all...the bones are tiny and just add to the crunch...

Thanks for visiting and taking the time to leave your comment.

best, Stephen

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