Spring is whitebait season here in New Zealand and as a North Island girl, whitebait has always been a slightly unattainable delicacy. So imagine my delight when The Koala’s parents visited from the South Island with a precious cargo of whitebait for me as an early birthday present.
Having never done anything with whitebait before, I thought whitebait fritters was the best dish to cut my whitebait teeth on. Known in New Zealand (particularly the South Island) to be a casual seasonal treat, served with lashings of butter on soft white bread this simple dish is a delicacy us North Island folk can only dream of.
Fresh whitebait is best (if you can get it), I froze mine so that I could take some time to think about what to do with it. Thaw whitebait in the fridge overnight and make sure you drain it well before working with it.
Fritters served with lemon, asparagus and a pale ale, this is a spring time lunch fit for kings and queens. Dig in with your hands or use a fork if you’re trying to impress. My forks were only for show. We’ve been loving Moa Session Pale Ale with it’s bitter and fruit notes taste like summer. A great match with these fritters.
This recipe is adapted from the submission by The Kerr Family to The Great New Zealand Cookbook (the book was also a gift from The Koala’s side of the family).
Whitebait fritters with asparagus
A light lunch for two
For the whitebait fritters:
- 250 grams whitebait
- 1 egg, beaten
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lemon
- Thaw frozen whitebait overnight in the fridge. Drain away the liquid and set aside the whitebait.
- Take a medium size bowl and add the beaten egg, whitebait and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a frying pan to medium heat. Melt a knob of butter and spoon whitebait mixture onto the pan to form smallish fritters (2 tablespoons per fritter). Repeat with all the mixture until finished, you should make around 7 similar sized patties. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side until golden. Squeeze over with lemon juice and serve.
For the asparagus:
- 1 bunch of asparagus
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- Trim the bottom inch off your asparagus and discard.
- Melt a knob of butter in a hot frying pan, add trimmed asparagus and garlic. Fry for 3-5 minutes, shaking often until asparagus is just done, remove from heat, squeeze over with lemon and serve.