The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
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Fried Smelt

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Level: Easy

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Description

A twist on a classic Wisconsin fish fry using smelt instead of cod. They are like fish fries.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Smelt, Head, Tail, And Inards Removed, Rinsed And Patted Dry
  • 2 cups Canola Oil
  • ½ cups Rice Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Salt (plus An Extra Pinch)
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger, Minced
  • 1 whole Thai Chili Pepper, Smashed, Sliced In Half
  • ½ whole Lemon, Cut Into Wedges

Preparation

The great thing about fried smelt is that they cook up really quickly. Think of them as big minnows, of which can be found in the Great Lakes region, or along the saltwater coasts.

Start by heating your oil in a heavy pot over medium to medium-high heat. You’ll want your oil temp around 350 F.

During this time, add the rice flour and cornstarch into a medium sized bowl. Mix well, then add in the teaspoon of salt. Add in the smelt, and toss to make sure all of the smelt are evenly coated.

Prepare your garlic, ginger, and Thai chili as detailed in the above list and set aside. You will want the chili just to be smashed and sliced in half, lengthwise to infuse that great chili flavor into the fish.

Once the oil is heated, shake off any excess flour from the smelt and carefully add them into the pot. Work in small batches.

These should only take a few minutes to cook and they will float to the top of the oil when finished. Ensure they have a nice and crispy coating. Once cooked, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them onto a paper lined plate. Season with a bit of salt.

Repeat until the rest are finished cooking. Once all of the smelt are done cooking and seasoned, add them to a serving bowl, and toss with the garlic, ginger, and Thai chili for extra flavor. Serve with lemon wedges.

When my kids first questioned what they were, and trust me they were a bit skeptical, I just asked them to try them. Basically, they are like fish French fries. They heard that crunch when I bit into mine, and then, well just say the rest is history. Those fried smelt were gone in a matter of minutes they loved them that much. The hints of garlic and ginger, along with accents from the Thai chili are great; that and a bit of freshly squeezed lemon make this a perfect treat.

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