Sometimes, certain items at the grocery store just speak to me. This past Saturday it was a pound of fresh smelt on ice. They looked so tasty that Grace was threatening to eat smelt sashimi.
Michigan DNR on Smelt Dipping
I rinsed and drained them, rolled them in a seasoned cornmeal, and pan-fried them for just a couple of minutes. We ate them with a salad and some homemade cocktail sauce and pretty much nothing else. A cold beer would have been nice but we had to settle for juice.
I had read that you don't need to take the spines and bones out, and they are supposed to be a good source of calcium. After chewing up a few whole ones I started following Grace's example and peeling the spines out. The bones are small but they can be a little rough going down. I think I might still be digesting some of them...
I don't think I've eaten smelt in at least 20 years! They were quite tasty, although best when still quite hot, and needed a bit of something salty to bring out the flavor. Once they cooled down they were not quite so appealing, but that's true of most cooked fish.
Again next year!