Deep-Fried Smelts

DSCF7738 (640x427)Alright. I’m seeing fish in a different light. I turned my back to pork and beef and discovered a variety of fish I have never knew even existed in the oriental store.  I don’t buy those expensive steak cuts and salmon fillets as many Filipinos do (usually with salmon for Sinigang). I just can’t finish a steak cut or  an entire fillet in one sitting, and I’d prefer them sushi.  I’d buy a whole variety of fish with heads attached and have them cleaned and eviscerated for extra and rinse them again when I reach home.  They stay in my freezer up until I start my workweek on a Saturday when I start defrosting pulling out one package at a time.  Many Canadian supermarkets only display fillets in either fresh or frozen packages. They never sell them with the head on and with as much assortment as those found in Chinatown or in any oriental store for that matter.

The smelt really intrigued me. They are tiny and just perfect for snacking. I know they are also perfect for deep-frying, but cooking them to a crunchy and juicy bite is the challenge. Before the inception of this article, I’ve tried frying the same by dipping the fish in beaten egg first and into a cornstarch/flour dredging mix similar to what I did with the Curried Fried Chicken. However,  it didn’t turn out as crunchy as expected. That led me to try other kinds of batter mixture, and the tempura batter came to mind. The other ready-made Asian style batter mixes looked even more complicated than this one. I would have used a can of beer as replacement for water, but alcohol is off limits until the next holiday.  Butterflying the smelt was also an ingenious way of keeping the form and shape intact. Seeing them on the plate fried and butterflied was just so inviting.


  • Smelts, butterflied
  • Whole Wheat Flour (or White Flour)
  • Cornstarch
  • Cold Carbonated Water
  • Canola oil for deep-frying
  • Salt & Pepper

Mix a one to four ratio of cornstarch and flour in a bowl. Slowly pour the carbonated water and stir gently until smooth. Season with salt & pepper.

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Dip the smelts into the batter and deep-fry one or two at a time. Pat dry with a paper towel and season with more salt & pepper before serving

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