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Whitebait Whitebait
© Sue Courtney
6 October 2002

It is whitebait season in New Zealand right now. All around the country, seasonal fisherpeople have their nets in the riverways where the tiny fish run. The population of remote towns like Haast on the South Island West Coast swell. For on the West Coast of New Zealand, whitebait is white gold.

Here in Auckland whitebait is retailing for near to $100 a kilo. But you get a lot of fish in a kilo. Hence you don't have to buy much to enjoy. If you do treat yourself, make sure you actually get to taste the flavours of this exquisite delicacy. Here's the ideal recipe.

  • Take one egg

  • Separate it

  • Discard or save yolk

  • Lightly beat the white to combine the solid bits. It doesn't have to be beaten to the stage where it bubbles.

  • Take one heaped dessert spoonful of freshly caught whitebait

  • Put it into a teacup

  • Add 1 teaspoonful of the beaten egg white

  • stir to ensure all the tiny fish are coated with the white

  • melt a knob of butter in a non stick pan and bring to sizzling

  • add the contents of the cup

  • cook 60 seconds

  • flip and cook a further 30 seconds

  • serve immediately

The egg white holds the whitebait together.

So all you are eating is fresh, tasty, unseasoned whitebait, There is no overpowering flavour of egg yolk or the gluggy flavour of flour.

And what's even better, the fish goes best with a zippy, zingy, herbaceous, new season's sauvignon blanc.

Bon Appetit

© Sue Courtney
October 2002.

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