Plate of Smelts with Lime Pepper Dip
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Fried Smelts w/ Lime Pepper Dip
Vietnam
  -   Ca Tam Bot Chien Don
Serves
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
6 app  
***
Note-3  
Yes
These simple fried smelts with dip are a fine appetizer for people who like fish. The batter coating is very firm, but thin and doesn't mask the taste of the fish. The dip reveals a Cambodian influence. How long the recipe takes depends on several factors (see Note-3).



1
1/2
1/4
1/4
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1/2
1/4
2
5
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ar
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ar
#
t
t
t
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c
c
T
oz
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Smelts (1)
Salt
Pepper, black
Sugar
-- Batter
Flour, all purpose
Rice Flour
Cornstarch
Ice Water
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Oil, deep fry
-- Serve with
Lime Pepper dip (2)
Prep   (15 to 45 min - see Note-3)
  1. Prepare SMELTS as desired (see Note-1). Dry them on paper towels if needed.
  2. Toss the Smelts with the Salt, Pepper and Sugar.
  3. Mix together all Dry items for Batter. Make a well in the center and pour in the Ice Water. Work it together into a smooth coating batter. If too stiff, add more water by the teaspoon until it is right.
Run   (about 25 min)
  1. Set out a wire rack for draining the Fried Fish and the Batter in a shallow bowl.
  2. In a Kadhai, wok or deep pan, heat enough Oil for deep frying to about 360°/180°C.
  3. One at a time drag the Smelts through the Batter, shake off excess and lower them into the Oil. Do not crowd the oil. Stir occasionally until Smelts are golden, 5 to 7 minutes. You will notice a sudden decrease in the amount of bubbling. This indicates they are about cooked through, so now you need only be concerned with color and crispness.
  4. Skim the Smelts out of the oil with your Spider, and place on the rack to drain.
  5. Serve fried Smelts immediately with the Dip. They are best served warm, but can be reheated in an oven..
NOTES:
  1. Smelts:   You'll probably be using frozen smelts as fresh are not available in most regions. The pattern recipe calls for the Smelts to be beheaded and cleaned, Whether you use them that way depends on personal preference and the size of the smelts. Very small ones are traditionally eaten "heads, guts and feathers", but I gutted those in the photo example. Large ones should be gutted, but I've found the heads to be no problem even in 5-1/2 inch fish, so the photo examples are "head-on".
  2. Lime Pepper Dipping Sauce   This is basically a Cambodian dip, but also used in Vietnam. It is very easy to make - see our recipe Tuk Meric.
  3. Timing:   How long this recipe takes depends on the condition of the smelts when you buy them, on their size. For headless smelts (usually also cleaned) it can be as little as 35 minutes. If you have rather small whole smelts, and want them gutted, it can take up to 1-1/2 hours. A pound of very small smelts took me about 25 minutes to clean, leaving the heads on. It would take a bit less if the heads were removed, and larger smelts would take a fair amount less time.
  4. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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