If this recipe could get any more simple, there would be no recipe at all. I remember Papa bringing home the white bait (smelt), glittering silver, like newly minted half dollars. Fifteen minutes later the fish were on the table and ready to eat. Nana prepared these every Christmas Eve along with her cioppino sauce for pasta. In this photo, they're paired with my Asian inspired Mussels.
corn oil (I use olive oil exclusively for frying)
Chop off the heads of the fish, just below the gills and rinse in a colander to drain. Dip the fish into flour and shake off the excess. Add about 1" of oil into your frying pan and heat it to a frying temperature (drop a cube of bread in and if it sizzles it's ready). Lay your fish into the hot oil by gently holding the tail and lowering it into the oil. Crowding will lower the oil temperature, so don't crowd the pan (Nana always cooked these in batches in her deep fryer). If your oil lever is too low, you'll need to turn the fish. When they are golden brown, remove, drain on paper towels and serve. Think of the bones as extra calcium; they're so small you won't even notice them!