Chef Pierre A. Richard
16 smelts (small)
1 cup (250 ml) white wine vinegar
¼ cup (65 ml) water
1/3 cup (85 ml) sugar
1 tbsp. (15 ml) coarse salt
1 cup (250 ml) olive oil
3-4 garlic clove
½ red pepper
1 tsp. (5 ml) chilies flakes
Piment de Cocagne (d’Espelette)
Northumberland Strait sea salt
Very good quality olive oil
Clean the fresh smelts so they are eviscerated, bellies split, guts removed and head off. Season the fish with the salt. Next mix water, vinegar and sugar until dissolved. Cover the fish with the liquid for 18 hours.
Remove fish from the liquid and dry on a towel. Very carefully pull the spine of the fish trying not to pull too much flesh off the fillet. Split fillet length wise.
Lay fish flat, scatter the sliced garlic, onion, peppers & piment. Cover with olive oil, marinate for 2 days. They will keep up to one month in oil.
To finish…get them out the oil, sprinkle fresh chive, sea salt, piment d’Espelette and grated lemon zest on the fillet. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.