Whitebait fritters is a dish which is basically an omelette made out of whitebait and eggs. But what is whitebait? Whitebait is a collective term for the immature fish (newly hatched) usually from the species galaxias or inanga, typically harvested when they are between 25 to 50 mm long using a fine mesh. Whitebait is very tender and considered as a delicacy, like all miniscule fishes everything is consumed from head to guts, there’s not point to gut it anyway.
This type of fish is expensive and will cost at an average of $80 per kilogram which makes it the most expensive fish in New Zealand, there are several factors that attribute to that price. First is that whitebaiting is seasonal and only happens once a year when the newly hatched eggs return to rivers and move upstream in freshwater. Another reason is that they are very sensitive to objects in the river including nets that’s why they are a bit hard to catch as they are good in dodging. Finally there is a strict control on net sizes so no one can just put an extremely large net into the water and catch them all, this makes sure that there is always a healthy stock level of these types of fishes.
So if you are lucky to see whitebait in your local supermarket or fishmonger, try this Kiwi simple delicacy and tell me what are your thoughts on it?
250g Whitebait, washed and drained
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp Flour
1 tsp cornstarch
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
pinch of Cayenne
1. In a bowl mix together eggs, flour and cornstarch.
2. Add whitebait then season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne.
3. Place small amount of butter in a non-stick pan then scoop out some of the whitebait mixture. Fry according to your liking I want mine a bit crunchy on the edges.
4. Once cooked place on a plate lined with paper towel then serve with buttered toast and squeeze lemon on top.