I can remember that on Good Friday and the December 24th my mother would serve little fish with there heads still on, fried to a crispy brown. I remember that I went from refusing to eat them, to tasting one with its head left on my plate, to eating a lot of them, heads and all.
I can remember asking my grandfather and Dad why we ate these little fish on these two days. On all the other Fridays of the year we did not eat meat and usually had fish or eggs. Why these little fish on Good Fridan and December 24th?
My grandfather Leonardo said that we ate fish on Friday because if we would eat meat every day how would the fishermen make and money. Sounded likd a good reason tome.
My Grandfather Leonardo also said that in the "Old Country" they did not eat Smelts (Eperlani) but ate sardines. He said that fresh sardines were not easy to get here in the United States so Smelts were use instead. He said sardines had a better taste.
My aunt Thelma gave me her recipe for Fired Smelts. She said that this is how her mother Pasqualina made this dish.
1 or 2 pound smelts - in some stores they may sell the fish already prepared with heads cut off. My grandfather said that the heads made them tast better. If you want to you can remove the backbone but again my grandfther always said that if they are fried crispy and you don't need to take bones out.
Flour mix with fresh chopped parsley, sald and a little bit of pepper (more peper if you like them hot.
After you rince the fish, make sure that the fish are patted with a towel
Take smelts one at a time and roll in the flour mix.
Use a large heavy metal skillet.
Put olive oil in the skillet.
When you see that the olive oil is hot that it just begins to smoke.
The oil has to be hot or the fish will become too oily.
Add the fish to the oil. Do not put too many in the skillet.
They should not touch each other. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes.