Monday, April 20, 2015

Day 9 - Fried Smelt

Pinterest Day 9
The Pinterest recipe I looked at today was Fried Smelt from Steamy Kitchen. 

The Reasons:
I literally just used the basic concept, without even trying out different spices, because smelt was on sale and I thought it'd be interesting! Sorry, but no pictures until the phone gets fixed!

The Ingredients:
What I can use:
cooking oil for frying (I like to use olive oil)
handful fresh herbs, minced
minced fresh chili pepper 
(ingredients I DID use - smelt and salt, and that's it).

What I can't use:
1 cup matzo meal
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic

The Challenges:
1. The coating. I can't use matzo meal, but I CAN use potato starch, as long as I make it myself, and as one company we know of just got their corn masa gluten free certified, my kids can actually have corn masa for the first time in a long time (although with the GMO issues, we don't use it much).

2. The smelt - how the heck do you clean a tiny little fish like this? I had no idea, so I had to look it up - turns out you snip it behind the gills (not all the way through). Then turn it over and slice it up the belly to around the neck. Then pull the head down and toward the belly and the tail, and the head and guts all come out at once. 

What I did:
1. Cleaned the fish (gutted them). Filled pan 1/2 inch or less with olive oil and heated to just below med. heat. 

2. Put some corn masa with salt in a ziploc bag, put a few smelt in and shook it around, and fried them in the oil, about 1-2 minutes on a side. Placed on a paper towel on a plate to drain. 

3. Ate with lemon or ranch or tartar, or whatever you can.

Why did I make these choices:
Tired and hungry - I would love to try it with more spices and seasonings, but it worked well with just salt and a coating, at this point.

The result:
Pretty darn good. Crunchy, tasty. Were good with both lemon and with a type of Ranch sauce the kids used (so I hear)

How would I change this:
1. I would not clean out the smelt!  - I only found out after making this that fish this small do NOT need to be gutted. You can eat the whole thing, heads, eyes, guts and all.  I made this same recipe again without cleaning and it was awesome, possibly even better than before. This link has a brief mention of this issue.

2. The oil temperature was more crucial than I realized. The first few batches, the oil was too hot and cooked them too quickly, and they were a bit overdone. One child liked that, one hated it.

Would I make it again:
Definitely. These were awesome. 

Allergy issues:
1. The fish themselves are not too great on a low histamine diet. Obviously the coating can be issues for many allergies, depending on what's used. Starches or any type of finely ground meal, I think, would work with this. I think you could even fry it with no coating at all but sprinkled with salt as soon as it is removed from the cooking oil.

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