Crispy Lemon Fried Smelts with Carrot And Parsnip Fries (serves 4)

I am sort of at the end of my Christmas stash of food so this is what I came up with for last night’s dinner. Sometimes it is a good thing to be backed into a culinary corner as you are forced to be more creative with very simple ingredients.

crispy fried smelts

Crispy fried smelts

So, I had a whole pile of tiny little fish called smelts and a bag of carrots and parsnips. Smelts are tiny fresh water fish found in the North American great lakes and the coastal waters of Europe. They can be found frozen in good fish shops and well-stocked supermarkets (which is where I found mine this past December)

A nice alternative to potato fries (parsnip & carrot fries!)

A nice alternative to potato fries (parsnip & carrot fries!)

I also had something on hand I bought out of curiosity more than anything else: pan searing flour. It is a really fine flour and saw it being used in my supermarket when there was a demonstration of how to fry the perfect scallop. It touted better results in the crispyness department and so I wanted to see if that was true.

pan searing flour

Pan searing flour

I didn’t want to buy expensive scallops so used it on these smelts instead. I also added the zest of a lemon to pump up the flavor of the fish, which worked brilliantly. As for the flour, to be quite honest, I did not feel it did a better job, but it was fun to test something new. I see where it might work well to make a quick roux to thicken gravy or pan juices so will keep it in my pantry and try this experiment later.

silvery smelts

Silvery smelts

The other revelation was making hardy root vegetables into fries. I have cooked parsnips and carrots like this before using them in combination with potatoes and other veggies. This was the first time I featured them, and we couldn’t get enough! They were crispy, sweet, salty and addictive. I highly recommend you give up on potato fries some evenings for this wonderful alternative.


Lemon Fried Smelts

*Smelts are neutral for Blood type A so these are fine for you to eat. The lemon is beneficial, as is the olive oil*

You will need:

1 1/4 lbs smelts (or a little more if you are starving)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp coarse sea-salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)

zest of 1 lemon

lemon wedges (cut up the lemon you just zested)

1 – Mix the flour, lemon zest, salt and freshly ground pepper in a big bowl or dish.

combine ingresiets to coat fish

Combine ingredients to coat fish

2 – Right before cooking, toss the fish in the flour until fully coated.

Toss the fish in flour

Toss the fish in flour

3 – Place saute pan on high heat and add 1/2 of the oil. When the oil is very hot, add a single layer of smelts. Fry undisturbed for about 2 minutes.

fry undistured

Fry undisturbed

4 – Flip and fry on the other side until crispy (another 2 or so minutes). Remove to a plate and continue to fry fish until done, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

Crispy Lemon Fried Smelts

Crispy Lemon Fried Smelts

Serve with lemon wedges, and  Carrot & Parsnip Fries (recipe below) or with regular fries & possibly something green like peas or a salad.

Parsnip & Carrot Fries

*These fries are great for a Blood Type A Diet – You have to give up potatoes, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up fries!*

You will need;

4 parsnips, peeled, cut into about three pieces and then cut vertically  into “fry sticks”

4 large carrots, peeled, cut into a 3 pieces and then cut vertically into “fry sticks”

5 tbs olive oil

1 tsp sea-salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional – gives a sweet heat)

1 large baking or cookie tray


Preheat oven 450*

1 – Prep the veggies as instructed above and place in a large bowl with 3 tbs of oil, salt, pepper and pepper flakes (if using). Toss everything together until everything is well-coated with oil. Set aside.

prep veggies

prep veggies

2 – Put the rest of the oil (2 tbs) onto the cookie sheet and place in the hot oven for about 4 or so minutes. (This heats the sheet and oil resulting in fries that don’t stick to your pan!).

3 – Remove baking sheet and spread the fries evenly and place in the oven for 12 or so minutes. Remove from oven, wait about 30 seconds, then flip the fries. Place back into oven and cook for another 8 minutes or until they have a crispy outside and soft inside (just taste one to see)

lovely parsnip & carrot fries

lovely parsnip & carrot fries

Serve with smelts (like we did last night) or with anything you like: fried fish, fried eggs, chicken, shrimp, or alone.

3 responses to “Crispy Lemon Fried Smelts with Carrot And Parsnip Fries (serves 4)

  1. Wow those smelts made my friend Marty so happy. Fish joy.

  2. Smelts were so tasty and crisp!

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