Poutine are very young fish fry about ½ cm (¼ inch) long, and so young they’re still transparent enough that you can see their insides.
What types of fish are served as “poutine” varies by breeding season for the fish, and by locale.
It can be freshwater fish from rivers. When saltwater fish are used, anchovies and sardines are now the most common in the mix called poutine. The mix used to include small mackerel from the North Atlantic, but now it’s against the law to catch, sell or eat them when so young.
Some people argue that in this day and age, catching any fish fish so young is a good way to deplete the fisheries.
Poutine are usually fried up in some kind of mixture, either a loose mixture with oil, garlic, onion and already-cooked potato, and tossing the fish in as is, whole, or in an omelette.
They can also be included in soups.
They only need a cooking time of about 5 minutes.
The word “poutine” is used in Provence. A synonym, “nonat,” comes from the word “néonati”, meaning “neo-natal”, or just born.
Larousse Gastronomique (1988, English version, page 842) says that “poutine” comes from the Provençal word “poutina”, meaning “porridge”.