I picked up some nice looking smelts the other day. They were butterflied and headless (would have like whole, but I'll take em!).
Read some CH recipes and dec ided to wet with lemon juice and dredge in (first batch) flour with S&P; (second batch) same flour with cormeal, Old Bay and cayenne added, so we could compare.
Well, first batch went fine--fried up in just enough olive and grapeseed oil to cover the pan. We split one to try and it was crispy, soft deliciousness. Can't wait to do the rest.
Second batch, sits in bowl of lemon juice while waiting it's turn, gets dredgedm, and as we wipe out the pan of the with the first fry's matter, we notice--ugh--an inch or so long red worm, no wider than a thread, but extremely revolting none the less.
We contemplate braving it out--it's just one worm. Clearly it made its escape and the smelts are good to go.
No such. There's a worm in the flour. And lo and behold, a second filament-like worm in the lemon juice.
All smelt out side in trash. Immediately. Shiver.
Call a local fishmonger--it's after 8:30-they are gone.
Alright-so I got the smelt at a local grocery store (a nice, clean place, no fault of theirs I'm sure) I couldn't resist as I walked by the seafood dept and saw their silvery skins gleaming at me.
I call said grocery--fish person is gone, but (very nice) asst. manager is as horrified as me, wants to make it up to me, but (what I really want to know is what are they) he has no idea.
I told him to put a bunch of smelt into a big white bowl and see what happens.
So my dear Chowhounds. Do you know what they were? I know cod suffers some giant worms and folks oftern eat them unknowingly once they are cooked (and blend in) with the fish.
These were just too awful and we could not/would not knowingly eat.
Any ideas? Are they very common to smelt--I'd like to try again with a batch from another source--but not if it's simply a fact of smelty-life.