Our Campfire Smelt recipe can be used for any small fish. Grilling fresh fish in foil or leaves over a campfire is a great summer tradition. The fish will be cooked in an herbal steam and emerge fragrant and perfectly moist!
One simple method is to place your fillets in a foil pouch. Or, if you wish to avoid foil, wrap your fish in leaves before cooking. Leaves from sycamore, walnut, oak, chestnut, maple, or even cherry trees will work. (Or, you could buy banana leaves.) You will also need fiber string or cotton kitchen twine string for tying up the leaf packets.
Note: With smelt, the backbone is generally kept intact. When smelt are cooked, the bones become crisp and brittle and are eaten. When baked or broiled, the bones don’t cook up as well but the meat can be easily picked off the bones. You may want to butterfly fillet very large smelt.
Clean, wash, and dry fish.
Cut 6 pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil, 12 x 12 inches each. Grease lightly.
Divide fish into 6 portions. Place fish on foil (or leaves). It helps to spread the fish with butter or olive oil.
Season with salt and butter. Season with optional herbs, garlic, lemon.
Place onion and parsley on fish. Top with bacon.
Bring foil over fish and seal edges with double folds. If you’re using leaves, make sure they overlap to cover the fish completely. Secure the leaves to keep them closed.
Place packages on hot coals or on a grill about 4 inches from hot coals. Turn after five minutes.
It takes about 10 minutes to cook fish thoroughly, sometimes up to 15 minutes. The fish is cooked completely when it easily flakes apart with a fork and is no longer translucent.