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+ servings

Fried Smelt Recipe

Substitute panko, all-purpose flour or crushed cornflakes for the matzo meal. For a gluten-free version, substitute with your favorite GF cornmeal.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Servings 4


  • cooking oil for frying (I like to use olive oil)
  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound smelt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • handful fresh herbs, minced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • minced fresh chili pepper (I used 1 whole chili)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon, halved


  • In a large saute pan, add oil to reach 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil until 350F or when you drop a few flakes of matzo meal into the oil it begins to bubble and lightly brown.
  • In a wide, shallow bowl, mix together the matzo meal, garlic powder and the salt. Have the matzo meal, the smelt, a wire rack on top of a baking sheet ready by your stove. Coat a smelt on both sides with the matzo meal then carefully slide into the hot oil to fry. Repeat with a few more smelt fish (just make sure you give the smelt enough room so that they don't touch in the oil). Fry both sides of the smelt fish for 2 minutes each side. They cook very quickly! Let the fried smelt drain its excess oil on the wire rack. Repeat with remaining batches.
  • Just before serving, heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and when hot, add in the garlic and chilies. When garlic becomes fragrant, season with salt and pepper and squeeze in the juice of one of the lemon halves. Turn off the heat and stir in the fresh herbs. Pour this over the plated fried smelt and serve immediately with lemon wedges.
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