Smelt is a small fish, available worldwide. Depending on the species, it is either saltwater or freshwater fish. In the US, it is found in Atlantic ocean, Pacific ocean and also in Great Lakes. It is a seasonal fish available in late Fall and early Winters. Some stores carry frozen smelt year around. I usually pan grill the fish and today it is baked. I serve baked smelt as a side dish.
A species of smelt is found even in India and back home, the most common preparation with this fish is pulusu, a tamarind based gravy. I usually buy fresh fish when it is in season and pan grill it just like sardines. Few days ago I found a packet of smelts in the freezer section of the supermarket and picked up a packet to make pulusu.
However, Mr U had other plan, he asked me to pan grill it, as I usually do with fresh smelt. I marinated the fish but was hesitant to pan grill as it was very tiny, compared to the ones I usually buy. Hence, I baked the fish. It was well cooked and the fish was intact, without falling apart, which usually happens with pan grilling or pan frying. What you see in the platter is approximately ½ lb of baked smelts.
Smelt is marinated in basic Indian spices; chili powder, salt, ginger garlic paste, turmeric and then baked. This is an easy preparation. Though we enjoyed this fish, we felt frozen smelt was smelly. Next time I should wash smelt with salt, lime juice / yogurt / vinegar which helps in reducing the fishy smell.
Total Time: 25 – 30 minutes (excludes marination time)
Preparation: 5 – 10 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 3 – 5
- 1 lb Smelt (I used frozen smelt, which was pre-cleaned)
- 2 – 3 tsp. Chili Powder (adjust to heat tolerance level)
- ¾ – 1 tsp Salt (adjust to taste)
- ½ tsp Roasted Cumin Powder (opt)
- 1 tsp. Ginger Garlic Paste
- Lime / Lemon Juice (opt and I didn’t use)
- ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 – 1 ½ tbsp Oil
- Sliced Onion and Lemon/Lime Wedges for garnish
- Wash smelt with some salt and lime juice/yogurt/ vinegar. This step is optional but helps in reducing the fish smell.
- Pat dry on paper towel.
- Take all the ingredients except oil in a bowl and mix well until spices coat the fish.
- Marinate for 30 minutes or to up to a day in the refrigerator.
- If the fish is refrigerated, leave it on the countertop for about 30 minutes before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Take an oven safe dish, grease it with oil, put the fish in the dish, pour remaining oil over fish and gently toss.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes, flipping the fish halfway into baking.
- Serve hot as a side dish with rice.
- Eat the fish with caution. Smelts are sold with bone and gently pull or pick the flesh off the bone.
- Back home, people eat the fish with bone. I never ate it and I would suggest you do so with caution. If not chewed properly, you could choke.
This day in 2015: Baked Poha ~ Savory Flattened Rice Cake
This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2016