3-6 dozen fresh or thawed smelt, depending on your appetite
Cooking or Olive oil for frying, about 1/4 cup
1 cup whole wheat flour (you can substitute all-purpose)
1 T. kosher salt
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. cayenne (or more to taste)
1 t. mustard powder
1 t. fresh ground black pepper
1. Make the seasoned flour by mixing all the ingredients. It should not taste overpowering — the seasonings are there to accent the fish, not hide it.
2. Lay your smelt out on a platter and salt them well.
3. Heat a large frying pan over high heat for a minute or two.
4. Turn the heat down to medium-high and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan by about 1/8 inch. You do not want the smelt swimming in oil. Let this oil heat up for 2-3 minutes, or until you see it begin to ripple on the surface.
5. While the oil is heating, dredge your smelt in the flour and set aside on a dry spot. Lay out some paper towels to drain them later.
6. When the oil is hot, arrange your smelt in one layer with room between each one and fry over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Turn and fry for an additional minute, maybe two.
7. The trick here is to do most of the cooking on one side, giving you that pretty golden crust. You give the other side less time because you don’t want overcooked fish inside that pretty golden crust.