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So as not to be confused with something like a soccer hooligan, I give you Eulachon which will take you to the Wikipedia definition and genus, species, etc. everything you learned in biology. I am in Anchorage, Alaska but I grew up in Bristol Bay and these are NOT the smelt that we caught in winter on the Naknek River back home. Not at all. Hooligan are incredibly oily and tend to fall apart once cooked. If you cannot eat your hooligan immediately out of the frying pan, then I would say that smoking them is the best way to go. I only wish that my spring/summer months were leisurely enough to get the smoker out and try a few things. Alas.

I felt¬†like an elder when my daughter stopped by 20-mile River on our way back from Seward and she caught enough hooligan for me and my husband to have lunch. She’s allergic to fish (it’s a crying shame). Then my husband and second daughter and her friend returned a week later and got more than 100 of them. I try to clean them right away by removing the heads and gutting them. In my opinion, they do not freeze well. It’s best to cook them or smoke them right away.

The best way to fry hooligan is to dry them as well as possible in towels or paper towels. Heat about a half inch of oil (I use canola) in a large skillet, very hot. Make a highly seasoned flour by putting about a cup of flour into a plastic “Ziploc” bag and then sprinkling in seasoned salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, and onion powder. You can do what you like and each time I do it differently. This instruction is more about the method. Then make an egg wash of 2 eggs mixed with a couple tablespoons of water in a pie tin. Then sprinkle regular unseasoned bread crumbs in another pie tin, so you have three things: bag of seasoned flour, pie tin of egg wash, and pie tin of bread crumbs.

Drop five or six cleaned, fairly dry hooligan into the bag of seasoned flour. Shake off the excess flour mixture and roll fish in the egg wash, then roll in the bread crumbs. Fry. Each batch does not take long at all. They are tiny fish, 6-10 inches usually. My husband and I can eat 6-7 at a sitting, so I divvied them up over two days and I delivered about 20 to my daughter’s office. That was a bad idea, by the way. It’s like saying “I’ll deliver pancakes to your office.” They’re pretty terrible by the time you get there. Hooligan really need to be eaten out of the frying pan. Really. No one complained, but me.

Place onto paper towels to absorb the extra oil and serve immediately. Yummy!

BW and my husband, they eat theirs backbone and all. Me, I pull the backbone out and then eat the rest. The backbone is a bit too much crunch for my tastes. I fed the crispy tails to the dog and he seemed to enjoy it very much.

Here below is a picture of smoked hooligan. As I recall, we did not brine them, simply placed them in a smoker for awhile.