Smelts with worms--Gross and what are they and why????
I picked up some nice looking smelts the other day. They were butterflied and headless (would have like whole, but I'll take em!).
Read some CH recipes and dec ided to wet with lemon juice and dredge in (first batch) flour with S&P; (second batch) same flour with cormeal, Old Bay and cayenne added, so we could compare.
Well, first batch went fine--fried up in just enough olive and grapeseed oil to cover the pan. We split one to try and it was crispy, soft deliciousness. Can't wait to do the rest.
Second batch, sits in bowl of lemon juice while waiting it's turn, gets dredgedm, and as we wipe out the pan of the with the first fry's matter, we notice--ugh--an inch or so long red worm, no wider than a thread, but extremely revolting none the less.
We contemplate braving it out--it's just one worm. Clearly it made its escape and the smelts are good to go.
No such. There's a worm in the flour. And lo and behold, a second filament-like worm in the lemon juice.
All smelt out side in trash. Immediately. Shiver.
Call a local fishmonger--it's after 8:30-they are gone.
Alright-so I got the smelt at a local grocery store (a nice, clean place, no fault of theirs I'm sure) I couldn't resist as I walked by the seafood dept and saw their silvery skins gleaming at me.
I call said grocery--fish person is gone, but (very nice) asst. manager is as horrified as me, wants to make it up to me, but (what I really want to know is what are they) he has no idea.
I told him to put a bunch of smelt into a big white bowl and see what happens.
So my dear Chowhounds. Do you know what they were? I know cod suffers some giant worms and folks oftern eat them unknowingly once they are cooked (and blend in) with the fish.
These were just too awful and we could not/would not knowingly eat.
Any ideas? Are they very common to smelt--I'd like to try again with a batch from another source--but not if it's simply a fact of smelty-life.
There is a way to get rid of any live worms in any fresh fish: You've bought the fish and it's been on ice or at least it's very cold. When you get it home unwrap it and put it on a cookie sheet skin side down. Lay a dish towel over the fish and wait half an hour. Don't peak. Your fish won't 'go bad' in that time but any live worms will leave the cold fish flesh and end up on the surface of the fish. If you're not prepared for what you'll see when you lift off the towel don't bother with the aforementioned. This method will not get rid of any egg cysts from which the worms hatch. If you have skinless fillets that are thin enough you can hold them up to a strong light and see the egg sacks. You can cut these out with a small knife. You'll never see the tiny ones. Sometimes you'll see a bunch of little white dots on a fillet. Those are 'baby' egg sacks with 'baby worms' getting ready to do their thing. 'Bon Appetite'!
And yet the translucent 2 to 4 inch parasites in hard shell clams and conch are reserved for the person cleaning them. They reportedly have "special" properties. And are shared with somebody you are interested in.
And if your stomach acids don't kill it, the "Fire in de ho" rum and Kalik beer will.
I make and eat a lot of Gravlax (salt cured salmon similar to lox but not smoked) and I learned early on that the fillets must be frozen at least seven days to ensure all parisites are dead. So far I've not gotten anybody sick. I think a reluctance to eat fish because of worms is the gross out factor.
There have been a couple of lengthy threads here about worms in fish:
The general consensus seems to be that if they're large enough to see, they're not parasitic or harmful (except for the gross-out factor).
Pretty much all wild caught fish will have some parasites on board, once cooked the smelt will be safe to eat. They were almost certainly present in the first batch as well (and killed by the heat during cooking so they were safe to eat), the long lemon juice soak irritated the nematodes in the second batch enough for them to try and get away.