(Osmerus eperlanus)

Smelt is a direct relative of salmon and trout, although its appearance may not suggest it. After the closure of the Zuiderzee, a so-called stock population remained in the IJsselmeer of the smelt that originally spawned in the sea. The catch on this 'cucumber fish' - smelt smells like cucumber - mainly takes place in March.

Back olive green with silver colored flanks. Maximum length 30 cm.


Smelt has a special taste and smells strongly of cucumber. Most love them when they are really fresh.

Method of preparation

Fry small smelt in summer and autumn (too greasy and difficult to digest in winter), fry the large smelt in a skillet.

Nutritional values

375 kJ, 2 g fat, 17 g protein, vitamins B2 and B12.


Avoid / Catch

From Ireland, the British Isles, Northern France and the Low Countries to Northern Russia (the White Sea).

Fish fact

Formerly the food of the poor Zuiderzee fishermen: 'Smelt is fish, if there is none else'.

More information

Smelt is fried especially in France and Spain and is considered a delicacy. In winter, the small smelt is too fat and difficult to digest.