|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 24g||31%|
|Saturated Fat 5g||23%|
|Total Carbohydrate 46g||17%|
|Dietary Fiber 6g||23%|
|Total Sugars 8g|
|Vitamin C 107mg||536%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Whitebait is an old English term for tiny fish that are often dusted in flour and fried until crispy. It's a favorite British snack, and since whitebait is always smaller than your pinky finger, you can eat the whole fish. The immature fish are tender, and you don't have to clean them or avoid bones and fins like you do larger fish.
Count on between 1/4 and 1/3 of a pound per person, depending on their appetite. You will want a dipping sauce for this dish—aioli, a garlicky and creamy sauce that goes well with fried fish, works best here. Other mayonnaise-based sauces like tartar sauce are also good.
As a laid-back finger food, whitebait is a great choice as an appetizer or part of the game-day party menu. In those cases, the whitebait, sauce, and beer are all you need. As with most deep-fried fish, French fries are a classic accompaniment if you want to make a meal out of whitebait. They also pair great with your favorite potato or pasta salads.
1 pound tiny whole fish such as blue anchovies, no bigger than 2 inches long
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups oil for frying, such as peanut, canola, or vegetable oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Gather the ingredients.
Pick through your fish to look for any that are not pristine. You are looking for ones where the bellies are torn open (caused by enzymes within the fish breaking it down). Toss these and use only those that look nice, smell a bit like cucumbers (not like nasty fish), and have clear eyes.
In a shallow bowl, mix the flour and salt.
Pour the oil into a cast-iron frying pan or other suitable heavy, high-rimmed pan and heat it to 350 F over medium heat.
Toss the fish in the seasoned flour and then shake off the excess.
Fry in batches, stirring them so they don't stick together, for 2 to 3 minutes per batch, or until golden brown and crispy.
Drain the fried tiny fish on a fine-meshed rack or paper towels. If you are making a lot of them, heat the oven to warm and place the fish in the oven until you are ready to serve.
Serve hot with lemon wedges and enjoy.
- The best-quality small fish are often blue anchovies, which are commonly found in Asian markets. You can find whitebait fresh in season and frozen year-round.
- Frozen whitebait should be thawed overnight and patted dry before cooking.
- Fried whitebait is best enjoyed fresh and hot. Refrigerate any leftovers and consume them as soon as possible, within a day or two.
What Kind of Fish Is Whitebait?
The name "whitebait" is used for the juveniles of a variety of fish species, and it varies throughout the world. Traditionally in the U.K., herring were used for whitebait, but over-harvesting significantly reduced the herring population; today, the more sustainable sprats are preferred. In Australia and New Zealand, five different species of the Galaxiidae family are whitebait, while Chinese fish farms often export "silver fish." Anchovies and sardines are commonly used elsewhere.