Christmas Eve Pan Fried Smelts

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Christmas Eve is celebrated with 7 fishes in our home. Fried smelts is just one of the many fish we cook. There are seven Traditional fried, baked and raw fish we eat as a family. Born and raised in America, my parents continued the Rome and Bari traditions every Christmas Eve.

 these are smelts cleaned and getting ready to be dipped in seasoned flour and then fried for Christmas Eve Pan Fried Smelts

Spice up the flour!

I included additional spices added if you would like to try my version but that's just optional.

Christmas eve always consisted of 7 fishes. We would have calamari stuffed, crab legs, lobster, shrimp, scallops mostly fried.

Baccala which is salted cod fish. We also had shrimp cocktail, fried haddock and clams casino and of course fried smelts.

Many more than 7! Smelts are a small fish. Through the years I have adapted to how we like our fish and add the extra dried herbs to my flour. This was not how the original recipe was made. I just like the extra flavors.

The years mom made the smelts they were just a crusty coating on the outside fried, simple and delicious. Check out the instructions for cleaning at the end.

 these are smelts cleaned and getting ready to be dipped in seasoned flour and then fried for Christmas Eve Pan Fried Smelts

Italian Traditions

Every year we would celebrate Christmas Eve with 7 kinds of fish.

We would also have many appetizers that were without meat to celebrate the Catholic holiday.

These smelts were always on the menu in our home.

Christmas Eve Pan Fried Smelts

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

3 teaspoons salt

Optional: 1 teaspoon paprika

1 plastic bag

2 pounds cleaned smelts

1 cup vegetable oil

Other Optional seasonings : 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, basil, parsley, dill, added to the flour

Heat oil on medium heat.

Rinse the smelts and pat dry. In the plastic bag add all the rest of the dry ingredients shake to blend.

Fry in heated oil on both sides till browned. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.


  1. A seafood meal to celebrate X'mas sounds perfect to me. This looks so delicious!

  2. My version of the smelts is the same way you do it but I wash then dry the smelts then add to the flower in a bag salt , pepper , paprika, and some garlic powder, coat the fish then dip in an egg wash then dip in a blend of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and some seasoned Panko bread crumbs. I pan fry them in a mix of veg. And olive oil on a med high setting using an electric fry pan to allow the oil temperature to get to the med high setting. They can be reheated in a warm oven but I avoid the microwave . Buon Natale


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