Sunday, August 14, 2011

Smelting on the Sandy: Pickled Smelt

Favorite Recipes from Caldwell, IdahoI am a notoriously bad fisherwoman. I've been abysmal on lakes, rivers, and in the mighty Pacific. I suck at fishing.

I do remember, though, the one time I couldn't help but be successful. When the smelt run, if you go smelting, you will get smelt. The smelt were running up the Sandy River, and we smelted, by gum.

I don't remember eating the little fish -- I'm sure they were eaten, and I'm sure I sort of avoided them -- but I'm still fascinated with the shiny things, in part because they're eaten whole. Heads, guts, and all. Let's see how the Jay-C-Ettes prepare their smelt in Favorite Recipes from Caldwell, Idaho:
Kuskokwim Smelt
"Kuskokwim Smelt," by Andrea Pokrzywinski
Licensed under Creative Commons.
Pickled Smelt
Claudia Pugsley

Cut fish into bite-sized pieces. Add 1/2 cup salt to 2 quarts fish. Cover in white vinegar and let stand in refrigerator for 5 days.

Drain vinegar. Rinse and soak 1/2 hour in water and drain again. Add onion slices to fish and cover with 2 parts vinegar to 1 part sugar and 1/2 ounce pickling spices. Let stand 5 days and it's ready to serve.
...I'm pretty sure that's not what happened to the smelt we pulled from the Sandy River. Seriously, I've only ever heard of frying these things up en masse before. But, no. This is pickled fish. Good for keeping large quantities of food fresh for when there aren't large quantities to be had, but... pickled chunks of uncleaned fish. A quarter of a gallon of fish chunks, and a lot of waiting around.

This is advanced stuff, folks.

Since Ms. Pugsley makes no mention of processing the pickled smelt for canning, I'm guessing that this is so darned delectable that we're to eat them all fairly quickly.

I'll leave you to it.

1 comment:

  1. For those not familiar with smelting, the method we used was dip-netting. You had a long pole with a net on the end, dipped the pole into the river and pulled up an insane amount of very small fish.