I was lucky at the market today. I got my hands on some fresh, ice-fished smelts. The best way to enjoy them is simple; floured, pan-fried, salted and then dipped into a sauce. For the dip, you can pretty much use anything but I went with horseradish, because the zest of it works amazingly well with the fish. If horseradish isn't your thing, try it anyway - it's an acquired taste!
These make for a great appetizer but also a great lunch. Eat the small ones whole. For the larger ones, once they're cooked, you can easily peel away the spine, leaving you with only the filets.
• 12 smelts • 1/2 cup white flour • 1/2 teaspoon salt • a pinch of cayenne pepper • oil for frying
If the smelts are whole, cut off the heads, gut them, and clean them under cold water.
Mix the flour with the salt and cayenne. Heat about 1/4 cup of sunflower, canola or grapeseed oil in a saucepan or chef's pan.
Flour the fish and put them in the pan, about six at a time. Once they're brown and crispy on one side, flip them. It takes about 2 minutes on each side. Proceed for as many fish as you have. Add a pinch of salt and serve right away, hot!
• 1/2 cup sour cream • 1 tablespoon horseradish • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar