Once a year, I allow myself a special treat. No, it’s not Chocolate! It’s WHITEBAIT!
Now there is no way, that Whitebait, even in NZ, counts as cheap – unless you catch it yourself that is!
I remember in my childhood, standing in the icy running water in the mouth of the Waikanae River, right beside where my grandparents were living at No 1 Field Way, with a Whitebait net and a bucket.
How exciting when you lifted the net and tipped all the little wrigglers into the bucket. It was normal to go home with half a big metal bucket full of whitebait. I know we had fritters packed with whitebait, which is why it’s always been disappointing if I’ve ever ordered Whitebait fritters when out, to find a big lump of dough with a couple of whitebait somewhere in there!
However, there’s got to be a balance doesn’t there? If you’re constantly eating on the cheap, it can become a bit of a grind. You start to feel a bit blue and fed-up – so guess what happens then?
You have a blow out. You end up spending more than you really ever wanted to, on things that you don’t really need, and all because you’re feeling deprived.
So, every so often, if I’ve been tight enough with the rest of the budget, I allow us a treat! Having the odd treat stops you feeling so deprived, and so you’re less likely to go on a binge shop!
Whitebait is so expensive, it’s a once a year treat. Scallops might also be allowed once a year. While they’re not exactly cheap, if you compare it to the price of going out for dinner, you come out way on top. That’s how I justify it to myself! And I do have to be extra stingy for the rest of the week, so that it can happen.
Anyway, there’s not much to cooking whitebait. Usually an egg, a tiny bit of flour, mix and cook on a non-stick surface.
This year, however I tried a recipe which separated the egg, and only used the white, which you beat until stiff. I actually really liked these fritters, because the whitebait have such a delicate flavour, that an eggy taste can dominate it. However, without the yolk, that flavour comes through much more strongly, so that you get much more of the whitebait taste.
I used Annabel Langbeins recipe.
Mine looked slightly different to hers. Maybe she could afford more whitebait! I had 100g of the little wrigglers. And NO, you are not allowed to cut their heads off!
- 2 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 heaped tsp flour
- 1 cup fresh whitebait
- 1 tbsp neutral oil and 1 tbsp butter to cook
Whisk egg whites to form peaks. Add salt, flour and whitebait and gently fold to combine evenly.
Heat the oil and butter and cook heaped dessert spoonfuls of the mixture over medium heat until golden and puffy, adding extra oil and butter to pan between batches as needed.
Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon.