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.)