Whitebait are small, young fish which are a seasonal delicacy in New Zealand. There are five native species prized for their tenderness and flavor. In this recipe, I used Australian whitebait which are larger than their Kiwi counterparts. I lightly dusted the whitebait in flour and then fried them for a few seconds. The small, crunchy fish are served with an easy aioli of egg mayonnaise, cilantro (coriander), garlic and lemon juice.
Fried whitebait are particularly delicious washed down with a cold glass of beer.
- For the Fish:
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- 14 ounces (400 grams) of whitebait
- 2 cups of vegetable oil (for frying)
- For the Aioli:
- 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
- 1 teaspoon of coriander (cilantro, finely chopped)
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (juice from 1/4 lemon)
- 1 cup of egg mayonnaise
Gather the ingredients.
Prepare the aioli by combining the garlic, cilantro, mayonnaise and lemon juice in a bowl. Stir well to combine then cover and set aside until serving time.
Rinse whitebait under cold, running water and gently pat dry with paper towels.
Place flour and sea salt in a bowl and mix well.
Heat oil in a large saucepan until surface begins to shimmer. Test to see if the oil is ready by dropping a pinch of flour into it. The flour should fry immediately.
Toss fish in seasoned flour, ensuring they are well coated. Remove and shake off excess flour, then deep-fry in batches for 40 seconds or until crisp and golden.
Serve whitebait with a sprinkle of sea salt and aioli.