Meaty whitebait

Craig sent me this recipe, and while it’s not meat whitebait in New Zealand are almost as big as a side of lamb – so even though it’s a departure from the ‘meat’ theme I’m publishing away. There is now a problem about which category it goes in.

This is not Craig's recipe - but you get the idea...
This is not Craig's recipe - but you get the idea...

Whitebait fritters:

OK, we’re talking protein here rather than a juicy side o’ marbled meat to munch on. But every good cook knows that seasonal produce, in season, is best. What says spring more than whitebait? Well, ok, asparagus does have its place in the queue but here is a really simple dish that just screams out to be whipped up on a sunny riverbank to the accompaniment of native birdsong and sandfly drone.


Whitebait – hopefully a reasonable day’s catch
Free range eggs – egg to whitebait ratio works well at 1 egg to 80-100g of ‘bait (12 eggs to a kilo wb)
1 garlic clove
Finely chopped lemon zest – 1 lemon to 1kg of ‘bait
Finely chopped chili to taste
Salt and pepper


Beat the eggs together with a whisk or spoon. If you really want to get fancy, separate the eggs, beat the whites to a soft peak and fold gently back into the mixed yolks.
Fold in whitebait, garlic, zest and chili.

Heat frypan until hot. Add splash of oil and a knob of butter – you want the butter to brown but not burn. The oil will help increase the butter’s flashpoint.

Ladle whitebait mixture into pan – whatever size patty that you think is appropriate for the situation. Cook quickly on both sides until egg is just set.

Whip out of pan onto a piece of buttered bread – personally I really like ciabatta with this but plain ol’ toast slice does as good, besides that fancy stuff is a bit harder to find on the Coast (West Coast from those non-New Zealanders). A squeeze of lemon, grind of pepper and pinch of sea salt finishes this off perfectly.

Serve with lightly steamed asparagus (alright I’m messing with you now) and a good slug of …. actually a lightly oaked Chardonnay would work rather nicely. Save the Sav Blanc for the mussels and the Riesling for a seafood stew.

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