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Nov 1, 2013 07:17 AM

Fried Smelt? (Stay on topic!!!)

It looks like an overzealous moderator deleted the discussion of fried smelt from the other day. :( So let's try again... Please tell me about local options for fried smelt. I won't discuss where I've had it before, since it wasn't in the Greater Boston Area.

No jokes! No off-topic comments! No discussion of anything other than fried smelt in Boston and hopefully this time it will be allowed to stay...

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  1. I LOVE fried smelts and other small oily fish (anchovies, sardines).

    I'm really surprised that a fish that is cheap, sustainable, and good for you isn't on more menus these days (perfect small plate?) but I think like anchovies and sardines, poor quality examples gave them a bad rap. For that reason I generally make them at home.

    I've had them at Belle Isle and they've been good: dirt cheap and relatively straight forward. That said, I'm curious if any restaurants are doing sllightly more interesting preperations. At home I prefer them sauteed or grilled (like sardines) to deep fried.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Klunco

      I had a great dish of different small fried fish at Hei la Moon a few years back. I believe it was the only time I ever saw them at dim sum.

      1. re: trufflehound

        I have seen them there also on the same cart as salted shrimp, calamari usually after 12 at dim sum.

      2. re: Klunco

        Oh, I also like anchovies and sardines. I'm stupidly averse to preparing them at home, though. I've never done it for some reason. Probably once I tried it would be fine. But suggestions for restaurants where I can get my fix of any small oily fish (do mackeral count?) would be great too!

        Years and years ago I had a cold appetizer of sardines and roasted red peppers at some random restaurant (Davio's maybe?) that I've never been back to. It was simple, but fantastic. I should really try to recreate it at home.

        1. re: maillard

          Mackerel are oily, but hardly small - most varieties are at least a foot long, and some grow as large as six feet. Still, you can cut them into pieces as small as you like.

          1. re: BobB

            Tinker mackerel are sardine size and delicious; the really big ones (king) are a different species and are not very tasty IMHO.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              Toraya in Arlington has an appetizer of marinated mackerel chunks coated with panko crumbs and fried - very good.

      3. Court house had it last year in Cambridge, haven't made it back in a while.

        The takeout in Norwood use to have it, haven't been back there in years, but no seating there. Whoops looks like they change their name to the takeaway still have smelt on the menu

        1. I love them too. Also anchovies and sardines.

          Like I said previously, Legal's had fried smelt on their menu for years, primarily as an app but I think also on the dinner side.

          Not sure if they still do, but it was serviceable.

          3 Replies
          1. re: C. Hamster

            at some of the "old school" locations you can request certain off-menu items, like bluefish pate. i bet smelts too. places like chestnut hill are a good bet.

            1. re: C. Hamster

              I found them very heavily breaded, although as I recall they were splayed open and the bones removed.

              1. re: C. Hamster

                OMG, I used to love them! It was the perfect tapas to go with wine; a crispy fried bit, tho I don't consider them as oily as anchovies and sardines, both of which I love...You can get them by the pice at Courthouse seafood, even at the Fish Market side, where they have a case of fried treats, if your mouth starts to water when you're buying your fish!

              2. Might want to try some Greek places, maybe Desfini in E. Cambridge.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bizkat

                  I've had them at the Aegean in Watertown and remember them being pretty good. Pretty sure they were always on the appetizer menu - not sure now since they are still updating their online menu (seems like over a year now), and I haven't been there in a while.

                2. I had some pretty tasty ones at Moulton's a few years ago. Not heavily breaded...just a light dusting IIFC.