Crispy fried whitebait

Crispy fried whitebait

By
From
Margaret Fulton Favourites
Serves
4-6
Photographer
Tanya Zouev and Armelle Habib

A few years ago a group of chefs, food writers and good cooks who had recently returned from Greece as guests of the International Olive Oil Council gathered for a reunion on the deck of my harbourside home.

Originally from Greece, the acclaimed chef Janni Kyritsis’ eyes brightened when he saw the fresh whitebait I had found on my morning visit to the fish markets. He tossed them in seasoned flour and fried them in olive oil for a minute or two until they were golden and crispy. He then gave someone the job of salting and peppering them as the batches were done, and giving each a squeeze of lemon. Serve them as a first course or an appetiser with drinks.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
light olive oil or rice bran oil, for deep-frying
500g whitebait or small anchovies
4 tablespoons plain flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
lemon wedges

Method

  1. Fill a wok to one-third with the oil and heat until almost smoking. Lightly dust fish with seasoned flour and fry in batches for about 2 minutes each, turning constantly in the oil. Remove each batch with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. If needed, add more oil to the wok as you continue frying the fish.
  2. When all are cooked, repeat the frying process for a couple of seconds at a time and drain on fresh paper towels. Twice-frying is the secret of a crisp finish. When they are all done, season with sea salt and pepper, squeeze with lemon juice and serve immediately.

Note

  • Whitebait are tiny, very young fish. In New Zealand, whitebait are particularly small, tender and sweet, and are mostly used in fritters and omelettes. This type of whitebait is too small to prepare as described above because the fish stay in a mass and can’t be cooked separately. The fish I am referring to can be called silver fish or whitebait. They are 3–5 cm long and look like very small sardines.
Tags:
Margaret
Fulton
Favourites
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