Lake Smelt Escabeche

Monahan's Seafood Market | Fresh Whole Fish, Fillets, Shellfish, Recipes, Catering & Lunch Counter-Ann Arbor, Michigan

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer (or 2-3 for dinner)

  • 1 lb. dressed lake smelt
  • Olive oil
  • Drake’s batter mix or seasoned flour
  • Milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup olive oil for marinade
  • 3/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and coarse black pepper
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced, about 1 T
  • 1 med. carrot, julienned, about 2 inches long
  • 1/3 cup julienned red pepper, about 2 inches long
  • 1/3 cup julienned green pepper, about 2 inches long
  • 3 scallions, white section and part of green, sliced thinly
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 T sriracha sauce, or more to taste
  • Heat a large heavy pan or skillet over med-high heat and add olive oil (enough to cover 1 layer of smelt)

Dip smelt in milk, then dredge in Drake’s batter mix or seasoned flour.

When oil is sizzling hot add smelt to pan (do not over crowd pan, it’s better to do a few batches if you need to). When smelt is crisp, golden and opaque to the bone, drain on paper towel and set aside. Pour off most of the olive oil then add 1/2 cup olive oil. When oil is hot, add peppers, scallions, carrots and garlic. Sauté until vegetables soften. Stir in thyme, bay leaves, and cumin. Keep stirring until flavors blend then add the vinegar, sweet chili sauce, sriracha sauce and water. Reduce, stirring occasionally, until marinade thickens and becomes more sauce like. Remove from heat and let cool at room temp.

Pour half of the marinade in a baking dish or cazuela, then place smelt on top. Completely cover the smelt with the rest of the marinade. Cover with food wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight. Rearrange on a nice looking platter and serve.

We sometimes attack a batch before they hit the fridge; not quite marinated but so good!


Monahan's Seafood

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