Spicy Jerk Style Smelt

There's always some kind of action on the Michigan shorelines. That's what makes our state one of the most popoular tourist spots. The latest is smelt dipping. These tasty little fish run in schools in the spring when the water reaches a certain temperature. You'll see people off shore with these large nets scooping them out by the droves and it is not uncommon for these folks to come home with a garbage bag or two full of them.

The hardest part--or perhaps the most unpleasant?--is cleaning them all! Each one only takes a few seconds, but when you're faced with a couple of hundred it can look like an awesome task. The reward is what motivates you to do it. These little buggers taste like heavenly morsels when prepared right. This Smelt Fish Batter gives them a little zest and zing bop-a-doo:

2 cups                  water
4 cups                  all purpose flour
1/2 cup                 cornstarch
1 ea.                   egg
1 TB                    salt
1 TB                    paprika
3 TB                    caribbean jerk spice

In a mixer, combine the water, then flour, cornstarch, egg and spices and mix until smooth. Store in the fridge one hour. When the batter is cold, it sticks better to the fish. Always make sure your smelt is patted dry before dipping in the batter.

The jerk spice is similar to cajun. It is a blend of caribbean spices that add zestiness. You can always add more or less to your taste. Deep fry until golden brown and drain on paper toweling.

Eastsiders like to drink brewskis with these, but if you're into wine, Lemon Creek in Paw Paw has been making their fruit of the vine for over a hundred years. We're going to add their Baco Rosé to our Loon River Café wine list. It's in the "lambrusco" style--a local favorite. And as always, a good cook appreciates nature and what it has to offer.