Spicy Crispy Whitebait With Tartare Sauce

Crispy White Bait

Photography Andy Arnfield = The Gourmet Grocer

Deep-fried whitebait is crunchy, salty baby fish  that’s been served in Britain for centuries . The tiny fish are delicious when prepared and cooked simply, with just a little cayenne spice, lemon juice and in this case hot chilli powder. Whitebait usually come frozen but I was lucky enough to find some fresh ones this week at my local fishmonger , so they had to go on the menu. My one tip when making this dish is not to over crowd the pan as this will reduce the temperature of the oil and your whitebait will turn out soggy, so batch frying is a must. Enjoy ;0)

Serves 4


200g whitebait
1 cup plain flour
1 tbs hot chilli powder
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Rice bran oil, or olive oil, for frying

Preheat your oil in pot or deep fat fryer to 180 degrees .

Combine the flour and chilli powder  in a shallow dish, season to taste. Dredge the whitebait in the flour mixture making sure each fish is well covered as the more coating the crispier the fish

In batches, fry the whitebait for about 4-5 minutes, until crisp and light golden. You cook in batches as too may whitebait at once will reduce the temperature of the oil and give you a soggy result.

Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining fish.

Serve with Tartare sauce

Tartare Sauce
4 cornichons
1 heaped teaspoon small capers
a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 a 30g tin of anchovy fillets in oil
1 lemon
1/2 a 400g jar of good-quality mayonnaise
sweet paprika, for dusting

In a food processor food processor and add 4 cornichons, a heaped teaspoon of capers, a small bunch of fresh parsley and half the tin of anchovies and their oil. Pulse a few times with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and the zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon. Whiz until fairly smooth, then transfer to a small bowl and add 1/2 the jar of mayo. Mix well, adding the juice of the rest of the lemon, tasting and tweaking as necessary. Sprinkle with the sweet paprika, drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and take to the table.

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