Recipes for Jacksmelt... and Grunion

Ken Jones

Staff member
Posted by Ken Jones on July 7, 2004

What's your best recipes for jacksmelt?

Posted by Ken Jones

Not one of the best tasting fish, in my opinion, but still worthy of the skillet when the larder is low. Unfortunately I prefer fillets (since I'm not wild about the bones) and most fillets are so small that it's hard not to overcook them. Of course the small jacksmelt (and topsmelt) can be cooked whole as with most smelt and smelt-like species.

Posted by bigworm

I haven't tasted one good recipe for Jacksmelt yet and I've tried about a dozen methods. This ought to be interesting

Posted by Heretic

Well first clean and shave the scales off it. Depending on the size, make 4-6 cuts diagonally along the filet part. Pat it in some corn starch. Melt some butter in a pan, and then fry it with garlic, green onions, and salt. An annoying appetizer with a lot of bones.

Posted by Daniel E

First you take the smelt and cut heads off and gut them and run thumb up the back bone and remove the slime. Then run your knife over the skin removing slime and scales. Then soak them in beer for one hour. Then take them from beer soak and drop them into a bowel of egg. Then drop them into freezer bag with flour and salt and pepper. Now just drop them into pan with hot oil. Cook till golden brown. Now you can eat bones and all with some of that good beer. (For adults only)

Posted by guycognito

My dad likes jacksmelt and he prepares them something like this. After scaling and gutting, he fries them whole in about 1/4" of oil until they're brown on each side. Then he plates them, adds some Chinese pickled vegetables on top, and then steams them for a few minutes. The result is a dish that's a little too salty to be served alone, but perfect with white rice.

For those of you who don't know what I mean by Chinese pickled vegetables, I think it's called "Szechuan vegetable," or "Szechuan pickled vegetable." See the following:

Posted by tranbaby2

Yeah, those things are cheap and so good when you're on a budget.... add a little to some ramen or any soup and it comes out real tasty, just make sure you wash it off well or you'll have very salty food.

Grunion — like small smelt

Posted by quietman on March 5, 2003

I decided to eat my grunion from the opener nice and FRESH, so got right to work when I got home with them.

Scaled, headed and gutted about 8, looked good, very easy, nice clean fish to deal with.

After a quick marinade in olive oil and spices while the pan and the olive oil heated, in they went.

I first cooked them like you would a trout, and found that, while tasty, getting the skin off and or the bones out was not practical.

The rib bones do not remain attached to the back bone, like in trout, so you cannot pull them out together. The skin does not peel off easily, and by the time you get out the bones and get down to eating, you have a hopeless mess.

So...thinking cap goes on, and back into the pan go the grunion. I solved the problem by cooking them until brown and crunchy. This allowed me to eat the bones and skin with the meat and IT WAS DELICIOUS! VERY GOOD FISH!

After further experimentation here is my recommend:

1. Cut off head, slit from anus to where the head used to be, push out the guts rinse cavity. Scale

2. Toss prepared fish in hot olive oil with favorite spices. Cook a few minutes on each side until what would be normally considered done.

3. Pull out fish let cool slightly, pull out the backbone.

4. Flatten out the fish, butterfly style just like a shrimp (see picture) put back in skillet meat side down, press and cook till golden brown, flip and repeat.

5. Serve!

This is AWESOME. You get a completely edible...and delicious...shrimp like piece of meat which you can pick up and eat, dip in lemon or whatever etc. I just put a few spices, a squeeze of lemon and some salt and pepper. You even end up with a little crunchy tail, just like a shrimp. You eat the skin, fins and all.

Again this is very, very tasty. Until now I didn't understand the popularity of eating little bony fishes like these, but now I do! A green salad and some beer and you have a meal you will remember. quietman

Posted by gyozadude

Looks yummy! Can you say "wakasagi furai?" Makes me really "natsukashii" (nostalgic) about eating whole deep fried smelt back in Japan. They didn't clean the fish at all, but kept them with eggs and guts and head. Not half bad, surprisingly with some special vinegar (similar to Worchestershire sauce) and a side of colourful pickles. Nice presentation Quietman!

Other recipes:

Posted by patrick333


I will clean them up good, seasoned with salt then put some sliced ginger and green onions over them. Put in a steamer and steam it till done. Mostly 10 to 12 minutes will do. Drained out the liquids, pour some hot oil over the fish, pour on the soy sauce and dig in!
(Use a metal laddle to heat up your oil over the range top)

Posted by cheddah on August 22, 2003

To ginkoz, how are you going to prepare your smelt?

Posted by ginkoz

I steam it. I think steaming fresh cleaned fish is only way to keep the fresh and sweetness from the meat. This applies to rockfish too.

Put the cleaned fish on a plate, with light salt, soy sauce, and some cooking wine, then put sliced ginger and green onion on top of the fish. And then put the plate into a wok or steamer with boiling water to cook 10-15 minutes.

Another way to steam is to steam the fish first with nothing on it. After the fish is cooked, put the sauce on top of it. The way to prepare the sauce: Heat up a cup of of cooking oil (as hot as possible), then put the sliced ginger and green onions into oil, then put in some soy sauce. Let them sit for a minute or two, then pour all those sauce on top of cooked fish.
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