Three Lily Farm Blog

Forest and Farm to Table

Lemon Peppered Fried Smelt

I grew up along the southern coast of New England, so for me, I have always enjoyed the taste of fried fish during the summer months. Unfortunately, this cooking technique is less then optimal. For the last 30 years or so, the use of traditional animal fats in restaurants have pretty much been completely replaced by omega-6 rich vegetable oils. Although considered the healthy choice by American doctors and health advocates, the research has proven that vegetable oils are likely the cause for poor health and increased chances for cardiovascular disease. When heated, these polyunsaturated fats become rancid, but because of the cheap price tag and society brainwashing of low-fat diets, restaurants stick to these oils as their main cooking fat. What's more troubling is the fact that these oils, canola (rapeseed), corn, sunflower, and soy are now grown using patented GMO seeds. I can go on and on, but HERE'S some additional info written by Dr. Mercola.

Kickin it Old School

Before the influx of vegetable oils, people always used animal fats. Lard, suet, tallow, and yes, butter. They came from their own farm or from right down the road and was used to grease baking pans, fry eggs, and all cooking in general. To keep with traditions, we do our best to purchase large quantities of meat, usually quarters or half animals allowing us to receive generous portions of bones, fat, meat, and organ meats. Doing so not only saves us money in the long run, but gives us a variety of cuts and portions to work with.

Eat the Small Fish

As we continue to pollute our oceans and rivers, large predatory fish are becoming laden with toxins, including heavy metals like mercury. What was once my favorite fish to eat, tuna, has no been put on the "do not eat list". It's unfortunate, but a reality here in our modern world. I still love fish and want to reap their health benefits, so that is why I often to turn to the smaller fish in the sea. Mackerel, sardines, kippers, and smelt have become popular choices for me now and ones that can often be purchased whole as well. These tiny, oily fish are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which assist us in keeping our sanity, pure brain food.

With smelt currently in season, I wanted to prepare these delicious fresh water fish in a similar fashion to the typical fish fry shacks. Like always, I upgraded the ingredients using sprouted spelt flour and my flavorful Lemon-Pepper blend to dredge and season the fish before frying in beef tallow. These fish cook up super fast, so have everything ready to go before submerging the seasoned fish in the oil. Enjoy with a cold beer, a wedge of lemon, and if you're into tartar sauce, check out this simple recipe over at The Nourishing Minimalist


  • 1 pound fresh Smelt
  • 1 cup Sprouted Spelt Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Frank's Finest Lemon Pepper Blend
  • 1 quart Lard or Beef Tallow
  • 1 Lemon, cut into 6 wedges
  • Sea Salt for sprinkling


  1. Add the fat of choice to a large pot and melt over medium high heat. If you have a thermometer, heat the oil to 350F.
  2. While the fat is heating up, prepare the fish.
  3. Place the flour and lemon pepper into a large bowl. By the handful, add the smelt and fully coat in the seasoned flour. Shake off the excess flour in your hands.
  4. Once the oil is up to temp, add the prepared smelt and fry until crisp, roughly 2-3 minutes.
  5. Use a strainer to remove the fish and drain on a paper towel.
  6. Season with sea salt.
  7. Repeat until all the fish are fried.
  8. Serve with lemon wedges and enjoy!