Deep-fried Moorish Whitebait

11:30 am on 29 November 2010

From Fresh! by Peter Blakeway
Published by Hodder Moa

The usual way of cooking whitebait is in fritters, but in this recipe the fish are eaten whole, deep-fried and crisp enough to rustle as they’re served on the plate.

(Serves 4)


  • 450 g whitebait
  • oil for deep-frying
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dry English mustard
  • ½ teaspoon castor sugar
  • lemon wedges to garnish


Pick over the whitebait, discarding any broken fish, and dry with a paper towel.

Heat the oil in a deep fat-fryer until a crumb of bread sizzles in it. Meanwhile sift the flour with the salt, pepper, spices, mustard and sugar.

Dredge over the whitebait, ensuring that they are all well coated. Put a small handful of whitebait into the hot oil and cook for no more than 2 minutes. Lift out and drain on absorbent paper, repeating the process until all the fish are cooked. They should be crisp and golden.

Drain well and sprinkle with a little salt. Pile onto a serving dish and serve with lemon wedges and aioli or tartare sauce.

Jo Burzynska’s wine recommendations 

Valli Old Vine Central Otago Riesling 2010

Forrest The Doctor’s Marlborough Gruner Veltliner 2010

From Nine To Noon

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