Fried Smelt is an easy Spring dinner for any night of the week! They literally take 5 minutes to cook, so dinner is on the table in less than 30 minutes!
Every springtime around the Great Lakes in the United States and southern Canada, the yearly smelts run happens. Fishermen can be seen, at night, with lanterns and nets, in the streams and river tributaries of the lakes, as the smelts go upstream to breed; smelt dipping, as it’s called.
Smelt are also sold commercially, if you live close enough to one of the Great Lakes or some of the coastal lands of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Different species of smelts are found in Europe, and northern Asia, and also in Australia! Our local smelts range from about 7″ to 9″. Learn more at Wikipedia
We used to stay up until the sun came up and drive an hour south of us to a stream where you were guaranteed to get the best haul of smelts, if you stayed up most of the night. Then we would spend the next way cleaning the smelts.
How to Clean Fresh Smelts
- Cut off their heads, just past the gills. (very small smelts can be cooked with their heads attached.)
- Slit the belly to the anal fin.
- Remove entrails.
- Wash cavity thoroughly.
- Once smelts are cleaned, place in salted water for approximately 1 hour.
- Freeze in plastic freezer bags or vacuum sealed bag.
- Adding 1/2 cup of water to the bag will prolong the freezing time.
- Can be frozen for up to 6 months.
How to Cook Fried Smelt
- Measure about 1 cup of flour into a covered bowl or plastic food storage bag. Add Lemon Pepper and Celery Salt. Mix well.
- Add. fish and shake to coat.
- Add oil and butter to cast iron frying pan. Heat over high heat.
- Add smelt, cook for 2-3 on each side. Drain on paper towels.
- Can be kept warm in 200° oven, while cooking other batches.
Other Delicious Fish Recipes on Binky’s Culinary Carnival
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Sauces That are Great to Serve with Smelt
That’s how easy it is to make Fried Smelt. Thanks for stopping by today!
Enjoy! And have fun cooking!
Tools I Use to Make Fried Smelt
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- Add flour, bread crumbs, celery salt and lemon pepper to large covered bowl or plastic food storage bag. Mix well.
- Add smelts and shake until thoroughly covered. See notes below.
- Melt butter in olive oil in large cast iron skillet over high heat.
- Add smelts, in batches, to hot oil and saute 2-3 minutes per side, until browned and crispy. Drain on wire rack.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
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