Mary Redding of Mary’s Fish Camp (View Menu) has a specific way to cook the small white fish (sometimes called “garbage fish” because they’re so cheap and ubiquitous) she finds in Chinatown: She fries them in peanut oil until they’re crispy, and eats them “like potato chips. Their bones are so small, you don’t notice them,” she says. At the fish shops, you should specifically ask for female capelin, silversides (also known as spearing), and sand eel (also known as sand launce). All of these have a mild, non-fishy taste.
1. If they’re larger than three inches, clean them. If they’re smaller than three inches, you don’t need to gut or scale them.
2. Soak in milk for one minute.
3. Drain; season with salt and black pepper.
4. Toss the fish in a mixture of all-purpose flour and cracker meal until well dusted.
5. Heat enough peanut oil in a frying pan to submerge the fish.
6. Fry for three minutes. They’ll bob to the surface when done.
7. Remove and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper.