North Africa has a huge coastline and fish is an important part of the cuisine. These small crispy fried fish are a popular street food, snack or appetizer. I used
smelt for this recipe, which are a Pacific Ocean fish and easy to find in grocery stores in the northeast United States. You can try sardines, anchovies, herrings,
sprats, brisling or whitebait. Whitebait is actually the name given to young or immature fish of a variety of different species.
These crispy fish are delicious served with spicy harissa, or fresh lemon slices.
1 pound small fish such as sprats, sardines, anchovies or smelt, trimmed if desired
1 ⁄ 4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 ⁄ 4 teaspoon paprika
1 ⁄ 4 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper for seasoning
about 2 cups semolina to coat fish
2 cups vegetable oil for frying
harissa and lemon wedges to serve
Beat eggs in a small bowl and combine with cumin, paprika and chili powder. Have semolina ready in a separate bowl. It is a good idea to put the semolina out
in batches, since when it begins to get clumpy from the the liquid it won't coat the fish as well.
Season the fish well with salt and pepper.
Dip each fish in egg mixture, then semolina, then egg again and semolina again. Reserve fish on a plate until ready to fry.
Heat oil in a heavy pan, preferably cast iron and somewhat deep. Drop in a small amount of the batter that has dropped to the bottom of your egg mixture. When
the batter sizzles and begins to turn brown, your oil is hot. Begin frying the fish in batches, so that they are not touching each other in the pan. Turn occasionally
and fry until well browned on both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Serve fish warm with lemon wedges for squeezing, and a bowl of harissa on the side.