Feast of the Seven Fishes: Fried Smelt

Chef Tony Mantuano is preparing a classic dish, for the Italian feast of the seven fishes.

Ingredients for Fried Smelt

  • 2 pounds smelts, cleaned
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup sparkling water
  • 25 ounces olive oil
  • 00 flour for coating the fish
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Fine sea salt
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Ingredients for Tomato 'Nduja Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • One 24-ounce jar or can tomato puree, preferably San Marzano
  • 3 tablespoons ‘nduja
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Fried Sperlani - Home & Family


Fried Smelt
In a heavy bottomed large pot, pour the oil to half full over medium heat. Bring the oil to 375 degrees F.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl add the egg whites and the sparkling water and beat well to combine. Take a handful of smelt and immerse them in the egg white mixture. Remove the fish and roll in the flour. Use a hand strainer or a colander to shake off excess flour.

Make sure your oil is hot. Careful place the coated fish in the oil and fry for about a minute or until lightly golden brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer the fried fish to a paper towel lined sheet pan. Continue to fry all the fish in batches. On the last batch, add the rosemary.

Place the fried smelts on a warm serving platter. Season with salt to taste. Add the fried rosemary and some lemon wedges. Serve immediately.

Tomato 'Nduja Sauce
Makes about 3 cups

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes. To avoid splattering, reduce the heat to low and add the tomato puree. Turn up the heat and bring to a simmer. Add the ‘nduja and stir well to combine. Cook until slightly reduced, 10 to 15 minutes. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat before using.