Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 226

Koryushka (Fried Smelt): Today marks day 2 of new foods found during yesterday's trip to European Deli in Marietta. I really enjoyed browsing in the market, and despite it's relatively small size, their attentive, friendly staff guided me towards lots of interesting new eats.

In addition to an extensive selection of pre-packaged goods, they also had a deli counter featuring some fresh-made European/Mediterranean standards. I spotted a few things I'd already tried (baba ghanoush, pierogies, etc.), but these little fried fish were something entirely new to me. I asked the guy behind the counter what they were, and he said that they were "fried smelt," or "koryushka." He also said they were extremely popular in St. Petersburg, Russia. I've had canned, smoked smelt before, but never these fried ones, which were much larger and consisted of the whole fish. I asked if these were to be eaten whole, and he said I could do that or just remove the filets. I love this type of thing, so I got him to box me up a few.
I decided to go ahead and give these a try tonight, so I threw them in the oven for a few minutes before eating. Each fish was maybe 6-7 inches long, and briefly deep-fried until golden. I should mention that these things didn't exactly smell pleasant, and the fishy odor only intensified after heating. I hoped they tasted better than they smelled.
After pulling them out of the oven, I decided against eating it whole. I didn't know how many sharp bones I'd be dealing with, so I took my fork and pulled the filets off each side, leaving just the spine and head intact. The result was different than I expected; the tiny filets were mild and a bit sweet. The skin retained its crunchiness, even after a day in my fridge, and I quickly devoured all of them before I got to my dinner. If you like whole fish on the bone (or any fried, white fish), you'd definitely like these - they were super good.

I hope my distant future involves a trip to Russia or Eastern Europe. Their respective cuisines feature so many flavors I love, but until I make the trip, I'll keep my cravings satiated with great finds like this.

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