Fried Smelts With Herb Butter
|Softened butter||8 Tablespoon (1 Quarter Pound Stick)|
|Freshly ground black pepper||To Taste|
|Finely chopped parsley||1 Tablespoon|
|Finely chopped chives||1 Tablespoon|
|Fresh lime juice||1 Tablespoon|
|Smelts||18 , with backbone removed but heads and tails left on|
|Flour||1 Cup (16 tbs)|
|Vegetable shortening||2 Cup (32 tbs)|
Cream the butter by beating it with a wooden spoon against the sides of a mixing bowl until it is smooth and fluffy.
Beat in the 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a fewgrindings of black pepper, the parsley, chives, lime juice and Tabasco.
Place the herb butter on a sheet of wax paper about 3 feet long; fold the wax paper over it, and pat and shape the enclosed butter into a long, 1/2-inch-thick cylinder.
Refrigerate it for at least an hour, or until the butter is firm.
Wash the smelts under cold running water and pat them thoroughly dry, inside and out, with paper towels.
If the fish dealer has not removed the backbone, sever it from the head, and with the tip of a sharp knife gently lift it out, cutting it off at the base of the tail.
Sprinkle the fish generously with salt and a few grindings of pepper, dip it in flour on both sides and shake off the excess.
Heat the shortening (it should be at least 1/2 inch deep in the pan) over high heat in a 10-inch heavy skillet until a light haze forms over it.
Add as many of the fish, spread open, as the pan will hold comfortably, and cook them over moderate heat on both sides for 3 to 4 minutes each until they are crisp and brown.
Remove them to a double thickness of paper towels to drain, and brown the remaining fish in the same fashion, adding more shortening to the pan if necessary.
Place the fish, spread open and skin side down, on a heated serving platter.
Quickly, cut the chilled herb butter into approximately 1- to 2-inch lengths depending upon the size of the fish, and place a small cylinder, lengthwise, in the center of each fish.