Inventory control of my Japanese food stash in our freezer is not easy. Often I come across frozen fish items which need to be quickly consumed. I found a package of frozen “shishamo” シシャモ smelt the other day and I do not have a clue when I bought it but it still looked good. I could have cooked them the usual way in the toaster oven or in a frying pan but I decided to slow-cook it in an herb olive oil a la “Gambas al ajillo“ which I saw on the web.
This dish is more than just enjoying the fish but also soaking up the herb oil with a piece of baguette.
As usual I made some modification, the first of which was to make garlic chips. I removed them from the pan after they became brown and crispy and before cooking the fish. If I had left them in to cook with the fish they would have become bitter. I added them back in after the fish was cooked.
“Shishamo” Japanese smelt, frozen, one package (this had 10 small fish), not thawed
Olive oil, about 200ml
Fresh thyme, several sprigs
Garlic, two cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
In a non-stick frying pan, I added the olive oil in low flame and the garlic until the garlic was golden and crispy but not bitter. I removed it from the oil (above).
In the remaining oil, I added the thyme and the fish (below) and cooked it on low flame for 10-15 minutes.
Mid-way through, I carefully turned the fish over (skin is very delicate and easily breakable).
I garnished with the thyme sprigs and served it with slices of baguette I had made. Although I used quite a few thyme springs, the thyme flavor was rather muted but the fish were very good (these had roe). The only problem was that this was an appetizer and the flavored oil with the baguette was so good that if we were not careful, and exercised a degree of restraint, this would have been dinner. The restraint was worthwhile though because they tasted even better the next day.