Even though it’s winter here on Prince Edward Island, and our waters are frozen over we consider ourselves very fortunate to enjoy seafood year round. One of our most favorite seafood treats in the winter time is Smelts. If you ask the old timers here on PEI what Smelts smells like you would likely hear them compare it what violets smell like, but to me fresh Smelts kind of has a cucumbery fragrance. The bottom line is it’s not the smell that we love it’s their flavor!! they’re a great favorite here on Prince Edward Island and the one thing we look forward to each winter is the first feed of Smelts
Atlantic Smelts caught here off Prince Edward Island are not cleaned like other fish. Most Islanders will eat them head and all but with practice the typical method used is to cut off the head just behind the gills and then pulling the insides through the gills. But like I said this is for skilled fishers. Many slit the underside with a sharp knife and then use a teaspoon to scoop out the insides.
While there are some who will painstakingly remove the bones before eating them, this process is rather daunting and tedious as Smelts are relatively small. Most Islanders, including myself just eat them bones and all since the bones of Smelts are soft.