Friday, December 26, 2008

Majuas Fritas o "Pescaito Frito" (Fried Smelt)

I forgot the typical Spanish name for the fish called "Smelt", my mother calls them "Charales" my Tata (grandmother) I forgot what she calls them, but thanks to one of my reader's "Mamey" and asking my Tata recently I found out it's called "Majua"

Well anyways this is a very simple dish, it's just seasoned smelt, dusted with flour then pan-fried or deep-fried your choice. Served with lime wedges.

Main Ingredients:

-1 pound Smelt clean
-4 cloves garlic mashed to paste
-1 tsp. ground cumin
-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper (optional)
-salt to taste
-a little bit of freshly squeezed lime juice (maybe like 1 lime?)
-flour for dusting
-olive oil for pan-frying or a neutral flavored oil for deep-frying that can withstand high heat.
To serve:
-wedged limes to squeeze over
-fresh minced cilantro or parsley to garnish (optional)

(1)Rinse the smelt, pat dry, if you wish and are patient you can clean the inside out, etc. but they are small fish, most people just rinse them and prepare as is, my mother is SUPER PICKY about cleanliness, she guts them and everything, you don't have to.

(2)Put smelt in a bowl toss gently with a little bit of freshly squeezed lime juice, salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic.

(3)Heat enough olive oil to pan-fry them, on medium high heat, when oil is hot enough, dust them with flour and lightly fry them until golden on each side in small batches, remove and set aside to drain on paper towels. (If your in a hurry. just heat plenty of oil in a skillet or wok on really high heat, dust them and fry them quickly, I prefer the flavor when they are lightly fried in olive oil on medium high heat, and the oil infuses with the garlic and YUM!)

(4)Serve them as an appetizer or snack, or a simple side. Here's a picture of the one's I put on my plate to eat.

(1)This a a very basic way to season fish in Cuban cooking, it's a very simple "adobo" that can be used to season ANY fish then fry it or pan-fry it. Very tasty. The way the fish are seasoned it my grandmother's really basic way to season almost anything that is gonna be just pan-fried, or browned such as meats, etc. (we usually season meats with just lime or bitter orange, garlic, and salt, sometimes with the addition of cumin and sometimes pepper to and depending on what sometimes also oregano.)


Joan Nova said...

For some reason this makes me think of a great outdoor snack for the patio -- with a glass of cold beer or a crisp white wine.

Nathan said...

Joan Nova,
That sounds really good and relaxing, an ice cold beer with some freshly squeezed lime in it just snacking on these fried fishies is most certainly heavenly!

Mamey said...

In Cuba we called them 'majuas.' Vendors would go door to door selling them, my aunts would buy a ton and we would have a spontaneous fish fry in the middle of the afternoon. What a life! The kids called them 'pescaitos fritos.'
Have a wonderful 2009!

Nathan said...

Thanks for telling me the name I am gonna edit the recipe now, I recently called my grandma and she told me the same thing, so time to edit I guess :) I love fish, I am starting to up my intake greatly I have it like 3-4 times a week and make sure I'm not getting to much mercury (usually small fish like Majua, Sardines, Starbutterfish are pretty healthy and safe also "Milkfish" which is non-predatorial, salmon though low in mercury if farmed has lots of PCB's, so I limit it to a few times a month) been taking some fish oil to and feel really good.

Mamey said...

Nathan: Anchovies are also a good choice. If canned it's good to desalt them and toss them with fresh olive oil (toss the stuff from the can if too salty), garlic and parsley and eat them with bread or pasta.

Anonymous said...

After you fry them would you ever re-heat them, or just eat them cold?

Nathan said...

You good fry it again to re-heat (yeah that sounds terrible i know) or jus microwave, or eat them cold with a salad or between some bread or an open sandwich with fresh tomato n a good drizzle of olive oil, etc. If you have tons of leftovers because u made a huge batch you can make a typical cuban sauce like sautee onion, garlic, bell pepper in olive oil, add some tomato sauce, thin out with some water maybe a splash of wine bring to a boil season with salt a pinch of oregano then add the fish and simmer on low for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley n eat with rice :)