Smelts are freshwater fish that you can steam, fry, barbeque on the charcoal grill, roast or even bake. They have a decent amount of meat for a small fish, and thus just a few fish provide a filling meal. The taste of smelts rivals that of sea fish when done right, because they take well to seasoning, and they have a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Use the following cooking tips below for tastily fried smelts that will leave you and your family wanting more.
- Prepare the smelts
After thawing, wash the smelts with vinegar and water, then dry them with a piece of paper towel. You want to get the smelts as dry as possible so that they will fry well.
Prepare a mixture of 1 tablespoon each of salt and black pepper in a saucer; this is the only seasoning the smelts need. They also need a dry batter of flour mixed with a pinch of salt and pepper. Rub the dry batter over the fish immediately before frying, never place the fish in the batter and let them rest.
- Frying the smelts
To get a melt in your mouth fried smelt, you should fry the fish until they are just golden brown. Any darker means that you’ve dried out the juices and made them crispy instead. To get your smelts golden brown and juicy set your skillet to medium heat and when it’s hot, add your oil. Coconut oil, olive oil, or any type of vegetable oil are good choices. Place the smelts into the oil immediately after placing it in the pot. If you wait until the oil smokes, you run the risk of making the fish too crispy.
- Serving the smelts
Before serving the smelts, squeeze the juice of a lime or a lemon over them. This gives them a tangy taste on top of the salty and spicy flavors from the seasonings. You can serve them with any side dish you like because they pair well with just about anything.
Pan-fried smelt can have a melt-in-your-mouth texture if done the right way. Remember that fish have natural juices that give them a succulent flavor and texture. Your job in the cooking process is to try to preserve those natural juices while adding the other flavors from frying. Follow the guide on how to cook smelt above and use these cooking tips to deliver your best ever pan-fried smelts.