Pickled Fried Smelts


Preparation info
  • Makes

    1 dozen

    • Difficulty


Appears in
An American Taste of Japan

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1985

  • About

This is a classic Japanese delicacy, but one that rarely shows up on the English side of the menu in Japanese restaurants in America. Here’s my opportunity to rectify the situation and give you a chance to sample one of those mysterious dishes usually reserved for special customers only. I hope you enjoy it as much as they do.


  • 12 smelts, about ounces each
  • ¼ cup cornstarch


The Japanese usually keep the heads and tails of smelts intact, just gutting the belly cavity, but you may be happier removing the heads and tails, along with the guts. Rinse the cleaned fish thoroughly in salted water. (The water should taste briny, like the ocean.) Gently pat the fish dry, inside and out, then dust them in the cornstarch.

In a wok or deep-fat fryer, heat the oil to ap