fries with eyes AKA deep fried smelt
This weekend we went on a fish eating binge. On Friday we dined at Sanraku before seeing the new movie, “Precious.” The movie was excellent in a very disturbing way. And as per usual, the meal was divine! We had a beautiful sushi a la carte comprised of taco (octopus), albacore tuna, yellow tail, uni (sea urchin) and nasu (eggplant) nigiri. We also ordered a few rolls: cucumber, fried oyster and wasabi. The wasabi roll was a surprise with its intense heat blasting through your nasal cavities. Some people say this is a pleasing sensation? Every time I overdose on wasabi, after the suffering, I start laughing at my own foolishness. I’ve only myself to blame for the delicious, excruciating pain. I always promise not to do it again, yet the very next time I OD once more. This ordering of the wasabi roll was Steven’s idea but I could have said no. Well my point is that after indulging in fish on Friday I was still not completely satisfied, so for Saturday dinner we had seafood again!
That afternoon we went shopping in the Mission at Sun Fat. I got some clams to make them in white wine sauce, essentially the same way as I made the mussels in Chablis. By chance, while browsing around the shop, I saw that they had fresh smelt. I immediately thought about summertime on the beach in Brazil. There this tiny little fish is called ‘manjuba.’ A perfect day at any Brazilian beach, as far as I’m concerned, includes baking in the sun with friends and family, drinking watery beer and caipirinhas, and eating deep fried fish. I’ve been home sick lately. I guess this cold weather makes me want to migrate South with the birds. (I can’t wait for my upcoming trip there in January!) I simply had to get them!
It is a bit naughty eating this because it’s deep fried. We don’t do much deep frying at home, but every once in a while I think it’s okay. The smelt turned out pretty delicious. I served them with tartar sauce.
Oh, I’m borrowing the name of this post from a similar dish from a restaurant I went to a couple of years ago. They thought that the fried smelt looked like French fried potatoes with eyes. It’s a cute name that’s catchy. Though, I think that the fried fish are much more interesting looking than mere fried potato. Anyway, here it is:
Fries with Eyes AKA Manjuba
1lb smelt (manjuba), rinsed and patted dried with a paper towel
1 cup corn flour
¼ tsp chili pepper
oil for frying (canola, corn, or grapeseed)
deep frying smelt
For the tartar sauce:
2 tbsp mayo
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 tbsp buttermilk
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
In a medium pan heat enough oil to fill the pan about ½ inch. Mix corn flour, salt, pepper and chili pepper together. Transfer smelt to corn mix. Shake off excess flour. Add smelt to pan, frying them in batches about 3-4 minutes per side on medium-high heat. Do not over crowd pan. Remove from pan and let fried fish rest on a paper towel to remove some excess oil. When all of the frying is done, arrange on a platter and serve with tartar sauce and lemon or lime wedges.
For the tartar sauce, mix all ingredients together and serve.
We’re not in Brazil here so instead of beer, we had our “fries with eyes” as an appetizer with a beautiful bottle of inexpensive white Bordeaux, Chateau Ducasse 2008. I used the same wine for the clam dish that I served as the main course, accompanied by olive bread for dipping. Mmmm! I do love seafood!