Before I forget, need to write in praise of smelts. This tiny fish can be found in the freezer section of your supermarket (sometimes), but in December, especially around Christmas they can be found piled up in the fresh fish display. They are a small schooling fish that are wild-caught in the Great Lakes. As far as fish are concerned I try to eat what The Monterey Bay Seafood Watch recommend, and avoid what is on their avoid list. It is a great web-site, you should check it out. You can download and print a list of what to eat and what to avoid and keep in you bag/wallet so, when you are like me and want to buy a fish and feel good about your choice, you can quickly look at the list! There is no reason why we should eat fish that are endangered, a danger to us or farmed or fished in a way that hurts the environment. That’s my little rant. ANYWAY, they taste like little bites of heaven – crispy on the outside with a lovely mild meatiness on the inside. They are inexpensive so I recommend giving them a try. My kids love them and our favorite thing to do is fry them up before dinner, leave them on a big plate on the counter and watch them disappear!
Quick Note: You could try this method with any small fish – don’t be afraid of cooking fish – it’s really not that scary once you give it a go!
So simple to prepare: Buy about 1lb (enough for 4 people to have 7 or 8 each) and give them a rinse in a colander. Pat dry and toss in a big bowl of flour (1 cup ish). Get your big pan out and turn on to medium/ high heat. Add about 2 to 3 tbs olive oil and let it get hot. Shake off the excess flour and lay fish in the pan in a single layer – no overcrowding to save time (never works out and you end up with soggy, too slow cooked fish). Fry for about 3 minutes (resisting the urge to push the fish about the pan – that’s what make the fish stick!!). Add more oil as needed and adjust heat up or down as you see fit. Flip over when you have a nice little golden crust and fry on the other side for about the same length of time. Turn out onto a plate a sprinkle with a little coarse salt and a squeeze of lemon if you have it or want it. Pick up with hands and eat. My daughter eats bones and all but I hold it and eat one side, pull the bone out and eat the other. The tail is good too so don’t be squeamish!