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Smelts suggestion

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Someone has gifted us with some frozen, newly caught smelts. I have had to learn to like fish since we didn't eat fish when I was growing up. I usually choose swordfish or salmon. My husband has eaten various locally caught fish but never smelts. Somebody said I will probably not like them because they are strong tasting. Is frying to best option? I have also been told I might want to cut the heads off and gut them.

Perhaps we should have turned down the gift but it's also a rare opportunity to try something we've never had before. Any recipe suggestions?

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  1. Smelts simply pan fried, with or without, a seasoned coating is a wonderful thing.....very popular for the Feast of the Seven Fishes for Italian Families on Christmas Eve.

    Personally, I enjoy them very much...and if they are small, I eat the bones too.

    1. Growing up we'd eat them beheaded and fileted, fried. They are sweet and light.

      1. Video: Easy way to clean smelts:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihlYjE...

        I grew up eating smelts. Love then dredged in a little flour seasoned with S & P and just a bit of cornmeal for crunch. I pan fry them in a cast iron skillet in a little olive oil. Serve with lemon wedges. They have s pleasant briny flavor and are Very tasty! Lucky you for having been given such a gift.

        1. I've never had them, & have only seen them offered fried whole in restaurants.

          Just out of curiousity, & from someone who grew up fishing, aren't they supposed to have been cleaned/gutted BEFORE being frozen? I've never heard of freezing ungutted fish before.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bacardi1

            I certainly think so Bicardi... good catch. I forgot that as I was typing I guess. I was taught to clean/gut Then freeze freshly caught fish. Had to scale & gut the fish we got from our first CSF. What a learning experience That was!

          2. We don't know if the smelts have been beheaded and gutted. Some have said they eat the fish whole, head and all if it's small enough. DH accepted the package without asking any questions. This person has given us frozen portions of cleaned fish (striper) before and since he's an avid fisherman and hunter, I suspect he froze them properly. We were also given some hot sausage but DH didn't ask what kind of meat. We're guessing it's venison but we were hoping for bear which he has only given us once before.

            Thanks for all the suggestions and the website link. I think I will cook up some good sides to go with them.

            1. The best way I've eaten smelts in coated in seasoned flour and pan fried. Very tasty. Once cooked you can just pull the spine out effortlessly. You can bake them too, but they really aren't as good.

              And yes, you definitely need to clean them, and I would remove the head too. Although, I have heard tales of people who enjoy the guts and all.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Musie

                +1 and I dip them in white vinegar with black pepper and garlic. I eat the whole thing, head too... although I can't remember if the ones my mom gets are gutted (I only eat fried food when my mom makes it).

              2. Here is a tutorial http://nathanscomida.blogspot.com/200...

                I use cornstarch and a spicy Mexican or Cajun spice blend when I fry them up. They make great appetizers.