When I was wandering around the freezer section in Schnucks the other night looking for something new to fix, I saw a frozen package of smelt that screamed that it was fresh caught and had a fresh taste.
I walked on.
On my next pass, I stopped a couple on the other side of the freezer case and asked if they had ever had smelt. The man said he had. He looked at the woman who was with him, and she nodded her head in the affirmative.
I should have asked if they had ever had it twice.
I solicited advice
Wife Lila penned a query: “Publix has a special cooler for fish bait and the like. Are you sure you stopped at the right cooler?!?”
Foodie Jan Norris posted the question to her hive, which came back with some recipes.
I followed one that told me to run cold water over the frozen fish just long enough to get the ice crystals off them, then roll them in a flour / salt / pepper concoction.
Didn’t want to risk it all at once
I put a quarter of the quarter of the smelt I had extracted from the package into my air fryer basket.
(I didn’t want to take a chance on getting the whole batch wrong.)
I set the temp and timer
I followed the directions to set the time and temp for 390 degrees and 10 minutes.
When I opened the pot, the fishies weren’t as crispy as I had hoped, so I gave them another four minutes.
I polished off that batch without being impressed.
I raised the temp to 400 and increased the time to 14 minutes for Batch Two. It was better, but I’d have been better off to have thrown them on my Blackstone griddle sans breading.
(Actually, I’d have been better off to have fed them to Phoebe the Bleeping Cat.)
The In-Laws get a gift
I called sister-in-law Marty. “I understand you’re going camping and fishing this weekend. I’m going to gift you something that might be an experiment, or it might be bait for Don.”
I presented them with a vacuum-sealed bag of what looked all the world like a bunch of headless minnows.
For the record, the fish lived up to their name: they smelt up my kitchen. They had a long lifespan, too. I had them for breakfast, and am still belching them 12 hours later.