The Meatloaf Princess was abducted by aliens who decided to coat her in panko breadcrumbs and cocoa powder, fry her, and then eat her! All that was left of her was her skeleton. The end.
THE FOOD THEME OF THE MONTH IS CHOCOLATE, BTW.
This story obviously never happened since I am here to tell the tale, but it was my dad's failed attempt to turn me into a vegetarian after I kept feeling so smug about frying these little fish from the North Atlantic with their heads decapitated(that's the way I bought them at the supermarket that used to be a PathMark but is no longer.
I asked the lady at the fish counter why the smelts' heads were cut off and she looked at me like I was crazy(or like my mom used to say, as if I had 10 heads). She then retorted, "Why would you want to eat the heads!?" I didn't respond but fact: fish heads are a culinary delicacy in many Asian cuisines. When it comes to meat and fish, I'm game to try anything once, even fish heads.
The only fish my dad eats are tuna, fish fillets, and fish sticks, so I guess he isn't used to seeing an almost whole fish with the skeleton intact being fried. The fish may look thick, but they fry pretty quickly, like under 2 minutes on each side. I didn't mention this in the video but the fish tasted like cod or flounder. I only realized this after I stopped recording.
It isn't possible to remove the skeletons of the smelts before frying them. I tried. But after frying the fish, it is possible, as the meat falls off the bone. I wish I had tartar sauce but I didn't. Regardless, fried smelt tastes great when dipped in ketchup or ranch dressing, which is the closest thing i had to tartar sauce.
But what makes the fish chocolate? I mixed panko breadcrumbs with cocoa powder to get a breading that looks like Cocoa Krispies. Due to the length of the fish, they couldn't be dredged in egg in a small bowl, so I used a large plate, though it may look weird seeing beaten and whisked eggs on a plate and not a bowl.
It's important to use unseasoned breadcrumbs so that none of the extra seasoning in seasoned breadcrumbs doesn't overpower the cocoa powder.
You will need:
For the cooking equipment:
3 large plates
A large bowl
A frying pan
For the fried smelts:
1 pound of smelt, decapitated and gutted
2 beaten and whisked eggs
3 cups of all-purpose flour
3 cups of unseasoned panko breadcrumbs
2-3 tbsp. of cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
Canola oil for frying
Ketchup, ranch dressing, or tartar sauce for dipping(optional)
1. Pour the beaten and whisked eggs onto a large plate.
2. Put the flour onto a second large plate.
3. Put the unseasoned panko breadcrumbs into a large bowl.
4. Mix the cocoa powder and salt with the breadcrumbs until you get a breading that looks like Cocoa Krispies.
5. Dredge the smelt in the flour, then egg, then cocoa breading.
6. Put the breaded fish onto a large plate.
7. Pour canola oil into a frying pan and heat the oil up.
8. Once the oil is heated up, drop the breaded smelts into the frying pan. You'll probably need to make several batches. I needed three batches myself to fry all the smelts.
9. Let the smelts cook for 1-2 minutes before turning them over with a fork.
10. Let the smelts cook for another 1-2 minutes on the other side. Note: for each new batch, you should add a tiny bit of more canola oil into the frying pan so that all the remaining fish can be fully fried.
11. Serve with ketchup, ranch dressing, or tartar sauce for dipping(optional). Bon appetit!
How to eat the smelts:
Every part of the smelt except for the bones(which are primarily on the skeleton) is edible, even the fish skins. When the fish is done frying, you should be able to easily separate the bones from the rest of the fish. My dad thought fish skins were inedible but with such a tiny fish like a smelt, it's impossible to remove the meat from the skin, so you might as well eat the skins.