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Crunchy Fried Smelt.

We all know that foods rich in omega-3 are good for us. “Oily” fish is a simple way to incorporate that goodness into our diets. By regularly including these types of fish into our meals, we can help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and lower cholesterol levels.

I’ll never forget the afternoon I spied smelt in the neighborhood grocery’s fish case. I will be honest with you. I had never heard of smelt. But, yes, I was ready to take one for the Fleur de Lolly team. The taste was on par with sardines. Smelt are “fishy,” but not overwhelmingly so. And, for reference sake, a pound of these fish will feed a crowd! Each little fish measures between 2 to 3 inches long, so plan accordingly.

Smelt are in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, along with their freshwater counterparts, which are common in the Great Lakes. Smelt are only a few inches long and are fried and eaten whole. You can batter with cornmeal or seasoned flour. They cook quickly, so have everything ready before you start frying.

Crunchy Fried Smelt

  • 1 pound fresh smelt
  • 1 cup cornmeal or seasoned flour
  • 2 cups of vegetable oil

Place smelt in a colander and rinse with fresh water. Strain and pat dry with paper towels. Pour your breading mixture into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Add half the smelt into the bag and seal to close. Shake the bag to coat the smelt thoroughly.

In a large, cast-iron skillet, heat oil over high heat to 375 degrees F. Carefully add the prepared smelts into the oil 8 to 10 at a time. Don’t crowd the skillet.

Reduce heat to medium-high and when the fish are golden brown, remove from the oil with a slotted metal spatula. Place the fish in a single layer on a paper towel-lined plate. Continue with the remaining smelt. Serve immediately with lemon wedges, tartar sauce or ketchup.

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Laura Tolbert, also known as Fleur de Lolly, shares recipes, table decor ideas and advice on her blog, fleurdelolly.blogspot.com. You can contact her at facebook.com/fleurde.lolly.5, on Instagram and fleurdelolly@yahoo.com.

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