Fried Smelt

As you may or may not know, Wisconsin is huge when it comes to the Friday fish fry. I know I’ve mentioned this a couple of times, however Wisconsinites take their fish fry pretty seriously. I know that when I moved to Dallas to start my career, I was actually a bit bummed that they had no clue as to what a Friday fish fry actually was. Now sure, Texans knew how to fry fish, but it was not the same as the beer battered fish we would have up north.

Of my pickiest eaters, my son actually got turned onto the classic fish fry many years ago, and to this day he loves it. Both of my boys love fishing right now as well and have already learned to filet a variety of fishes. That being said, they still love the fish fry.  There is fish fry you normally do not see much of anymore in Wisconsin, and that is the smelt fry. You are normally offered cod, perch, and maybe bluegill or walleye for the fish fry, but rarely ever smelt. So as my kids love a great fish fry, as well as pretty much anything battered and fried, I thought I would offer up fried smelt and see how they would like them. I mean LOVE them.

Fried Smelt Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb smelt, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt, plus an extra pinch
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 Thai chili pepper, smashed, cut in half (optional)
  • 2 cups of canola oil
  • lemon wedges, optional

The great thing about these fried smelt is that they cook up really quickly.

Start by heating your oil into a pot, over medium, to medium-high heat. You’ll want your oil temp around 350 degrees.

During this time, add the rice flour and cornstarch to a bowl. Mix well, then add in the teaspoon of salt. Add in the smelt, and toss to make sure all of the smelt are evenly coated.

Prepare your garlic, ginger, and Thai chili.

How to make fried smelt

Once the oil is heated, shake off any excess flour from the smelt and carefully add them into the pot. Work in small batches.

These should only take a few minutes to cook and they will float when finished. Ensure they have a nice and cripsy coating. Once cooked, remove them with a slotted spoon and place them onto a paper lined plate. Season with a bit of salt.

Repeat until the rest are finished cooking. Once all of the smelt are done cooking and seasoned, add them to a serving bowl, and toss with the garlic, ginger, and Thai chili for extra flavor.

When my kids first questioned what they were, and trust me they were a bit skeptical at trying them, I just said go ahead and try them, they are like fish French fries. They heard that crunch when I bit into mine, and then, well just say the rest is history. Those fried smelt were gone in a matter of minutes they loved them that much. Getting a bit of garlic and ginger, along with accents from the Thai chili are best, that and a bit of freshly squeezed lemon.

From what I understand, smelting is no longer welcomed as much in the great lakes. This is probably one of the reasons you are not seeing an abundance of them on menus in Wisconsin.

Merkts Cheeseburger

I don’t know what it is lately, but I have been loving smashed style burgers. In the past I was making burgers, typically on the grill, where they were big, plump, and obviously delicious, but now I have taken the burgers inside on a cast iron skillet, and allowing them to get nice and caramelized. Believe it or not, and this is just my opinion, there is a big difference between grilled, charcoal burgers, and cast iron skillet burgers. I’ll let you decide on which is better.

Merkts Cheeseburger

I wanted to make this burger because a friend on Facebook had suggested that I try slathering on some Merkts cheese on a burger. I’ve actually never tried that and was curious how it would taste. After all, Merkts cheese is somewhat of a staple in the house as a couple of the kids love eating it as an after school snack on pretzels, or crackers.

If you have never tried or heard of Merkts cheese, it is some awesome stuff. It is basically an all natural cheese spread that comes in a variety of flavors. I’ve tried most of them, and pretty much love them all, so I knew that spreading this on a smash style burger would be awesome.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients: (Makes one burger)

  • 1/4 lb ground chuck
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp Merkts Sharp Cheddar Spread
  • Salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Soft hamburger bun

Start by preheating a cast iron skillet on medium, to medium high heat.

During this time, form the ground chuck into a loose meatball shape. Season with a bit of salt and pepper, to your liking.

Add the ground chuck to the cast iron skillet, and let it sear, and cook for a couple of minutes. Then, with a large spatula smash the burger down, completely flattening it. Let cook another minute, then flip it over. You should have an awesome, caramelized burger. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, then add the thinly sliced onions over the top of the burger, letting the burger steam the onions. After a couple of minutes, flip the burger, along with the onions, over, allowing the onions to cook.

How to make a Merkts Cheeseburger

Add the Merkts cheese on top of the burger and allow that to begin to melt.

Place the burger onto the bun, and serve.

Biting into this burger is great. I’m actually excited just thinking about it. Maybe it is that aroma from the onions, or those crispy, caramelized edges of the burger, but then when you bite into it and get that great sharp cheddar from the Merkts, well, enough said. As you can tell, I made a couple of more as well. Oh yeah, and don’t even get me started on the homemade, double cooked fries with rosemary and garlic. Please don’t. If you want a great burger, give this one a shot, then let me know… Grilled or cast iron?

Merkts Cheeseburger
Author: 
Recipe type: Burgers
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ lb ground chuck
  • ½ small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp Merkts Sharp Cheddar Spread
  • Salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Soft hamburger bun
Instructions
  1. Start by preheating a cast iron skillet on medium, to medium high heat.
  2. During this time, form the ground chuck into a loose meatball shape. Season with a bit of salt and pepper, to your liking.
  3. Add the ground chuck to the cast iron skillet, and let it sear, and cook for a couple of minutes. Then, with a large spatula smash the burger down, completely flattening it. Let cook another minute, then flip it over. You should have an awesome, caramelized burger. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, then add the thinly sliced onions over the top of the burger, letting the burger steam the onions. After a couple of minutes, flip the burger, along with the onions, over, allowing the onions to cook.
  4. Add the Merkts cheese on top of the burger and allow that to begin to melt.
  5. Place the burger onto the bun, and serve.