Tonight’s the night. The night for Night Smelt!
To know these little fishers is to love them. Even their nickname "Fries With Eyes" makes us smile. They steal the show when fried simply in a pan. If you’re looking for an easy way to broaden your seafood horizons, look no further than these small fries!
- 2lbs Whole Smelts (cleaned)
- 2.5 cups Flour
- Salt & Pepper
- Oil for Deep Frying
- 2 Lemons (cut into wedges)
1. Rinse the smelt & pat with a towel to dry.
2. Lay them out & sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper.
3. Coat the smelt in about a 3/4 cup of flour thoroughly & let stand for 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat 3 in. of oil to 375°F.
5. Right before frying, pour more flour on the smelt. The second coating will adhere to the now sticky first layer of flour.
6. Shake off the excess flour and put the smelt into the hot oil. Pro tip: do NOT overcrowd the pan. Each little smelt needs its own space to fry properly and you'll need enough room to flip them in step 7 next.
7. In 4-5 minutes, the smelt will turn a nice golden brown (see video clip below for some frying action). Flip each smelt and cook on the other side for 1 minute, just so it lightly crisps but does not overcook.
8. Remove the Smelt with a skimmer and dry them in a dish under paper towels.
9. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper immediately after setting them on the paper towels, when it has the best chance of sticking to the food.
These little fishers pair wonderfully with any dip or aioli of your choice. Below is a simple recipe for inspiration, but feel free to craft your own! To prepare, grab a bowl or ramekin, mix the following ingredients together, and voilà! Your smelts are ready to go for a dip.
- 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt (full-fat or nonfat both work)
- 1/4 cup mayo (light or vegan mayo works too)
- Juice and zest of one lime
- One clove of garlic (minced)
- 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons of Sriracha (or sub with your favorite hot sauce!)