Crispy Pan-Fried Smelt from Frozen

When I first saw a package of frozen smelts in a supermarket in Italy, it reminded me of anchovies, a type of fish that’s familiar to all Vietnamese people. Besides making fish sauce, we fry, make soup, and caramelize anchovies for our daily meals. I thought, why not try something similar with smelts? It turned out great, so I would like to share some recipes with this type of fish, starting with Crispy Pan-Fried Smelt from Frozen, with a bit of fried garlic to enhance the taste and aroma. Let’s do it.

Fried Smelt from Frozen

What is Smelt?

To learn more about smelt, I conducted some research on the topic. Smelt fish, often simply referred to as “smelts,” are a type of small, silvery fish found in both freshwater and saltwater environments. They are typically small, measuring from a few inches to around 7-9 inches in length. They possess a slender, elongated body and are recognized for their silver or silver-blue coloration. Smelts are frequently caught in a large quantity during their spawning runs in rivers or streams, making them available for harvest during specific times of the year in particular regions. For instance, the frozen smelt package I have originates from a freshwater lake in Turkey.

Smelt fish have a delicate texture and a distinct fishy aroma, and you can consume the entire fish, including the bones. These fish are typically prepared and enjoyed by frying, often coated with a crispy batter. This is partly because the bones are too small to remove easily. In my pan-fried smelts recipe, I avoid using a crispy batter to save time and instead focus on frying them in a way that makes them naturally crispy.

Ingredients

The ingredients for Crispy Pan-Fried Smelt from Frozen are super simple: You’ll need smelt fish, chopped garlic, and a bit of cooking oil. The amount of smelt depends on your family size. I fried nearly 300g (almost 11 oz) for 2 people.

Fried Smelt from Frozen

For frying, I prefer vegetable oils such as peanut, sunflower seed, or canola oil. Olive oil has a distinct fragrance that I find less compatible with the aroma of this type of fish, but it’s purely a matter of personal preference.

How to make Pan-Fried Smelt from Frozen

Since smelt is a small type of fish, you can skip the defrosting step and add it directly into hot oil. They will quickly thaw while cooking.

  • Step 1. First, add 2-3 tbsp of cooking oil to a non-stick pan. You should use a non-stick pan instead of a stainless-steel one because the small and soft fish can easily stick to the pan. Once the oil begins to heat and sizzle, add the frozen fish.
Fry Frozen Smelt
  • Step 2. Gently stir the smelts in the pan until they are all thawed. After that, leave them undisturbed to prevent crushing the fish. Only stir if you notice the smelts hardening and turning brown on one side. While waiting, you can chop 2-3 cloves of garlic for the next steps.
  • Step 3. After the fishes have turned golden-brown and become crispy, add the chopped garlic to the pan and stir well to combine with the fish. Stir for 1-2 minutes to allow the garlic to turn brown and crispy as well. Then, turn off the heat.
Fried Smelt
  • Step 4. To prepare the dipping sauce, you have two options. You can simply pour chili/tomato/mayonnaise sauce for dipping. Alternatively, if you prefer fish sauce like I do, you can make it by mixing 1 tsp of minced garlic, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, and 2 tbsp still water together.
Fried Smelt from Frozen

It’s done! From frozen fishes, you can turn into a tasty dish of fried smelt in just 30 minutes. You can eat fried smelts as a side dish, or eat with cooked rice, vegetables, and soup. Let’s try homemade Crispy Pan-Fried Smelt from frozen right away and enjoy your delicious and nutritious dish.

Fried Smelt from Frozen

Crispy Pan-Fried Smelt from Frozen

Yield: 2
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

From frozen fish, you can turn them into a tasty dish of fried smelt in just 30 minutes. Let's try making Crispy Pan-Fried Smelt from frozen.

Ingredients

Fried Smelt from Frozen

  • 300g (11 oz) Smelts
  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped

Dipping sauce

Instructions

Since smelt is a small type of fish, you can skip the defrosting step and add it directly into hot oil. They will quickly thaw while cooking.

  • Step 1. First, add 2-3 tbsp of cooking oil to a non-stick pan. You should use a non-stick pan instead of a stainless-steel one because the small and soft fish can easily stick to the pan. Once the oil begins to heat and sizzle, add the frozen fish.Fried Smelt from Frozen
  • Step 2. Gently stir the smelts in the pan until they are all thawed. After that, leave them undisturbed to prevent crushing the fish. Only stir if you notice the smelts hardening and turning brown on one side. While waiting, you can chop 2-3 cloves of garlic for the next steps.Fried Smelt from Frozen
  • Step 3. After the fishes have turned golden-brown and become crispy, add the chopped garlic to the pan and stir well to combine with the fish. Stir for 1-2 minutes to allow the garlic to turn brown and crispy as well. Then, turn off the heat.Fried Smelt from Frozen
  • Step 4. To prepare the dipping sauce, you have two options. You can simply pour chili/tomato/mayonnaise sauce for dipping. Alternatively, if you prefer fish sauce like I do, you can make it by mixing 1 tsp of minced garlic, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, and 2 tbsp still water together.Fried Smelt from Frozen

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 150g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 370

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Other Smelt Recipes

With smelt, you can make various interesting dishes! Try these smelt recipes:

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