The best New Zealand whitebait fritters recipe

NZ whitebait season is now open and what better way to celebrate being a Kiwi than NZ whitebait fritters!

Whitebait are highly prized little fishes collected en masse from New Zealand rivers and eaten whole in buttery, whitebait fritters.

Whitebait is most commonly served in fritters. In this NZ whitebait fritters recipe, we’ve used a small amount of flour, which I think gives the best result. But fritters can be made using just egg, or egg white, more like an omelette.

FYI, whitebait fritters remain one of the most asked for finger food items at parties and events.  People can’t get enough of them – so make wee ones for a BBQ platter, or try serving fritters with asparagus and a hollandaise sauce for a main meal.

This whitebait recipe is easy as!

Serves: 2-4

Recipe ingredients

  • 250g NZ whitebait (drained and gently washed)
  • Half cup self raising flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten (we love Woodland)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 spring onion, slice very thinly
  • Juice of one lemon (or lemon pepper seasoning if you have no fresh lemons)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Parsley, chives, cress and rocket for garnish (we love Superb Herb)

Cooking instructions

  1. Drain your whitebait in a colander. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, sieve the flour. Make a well and add the beaten eggs with a dash of water, then mix into a smooth, thick batter.
  3. Now gently fold in the whitebait, sliced spring onions and lemon juice (or lemon pepper). Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
  4. Melt butter in a good quality, heavy pan and place a large spoonful of the fritter mixture in the pan. Shape into round fritters and cook until the egg is set or until golden on one side (use egg-flip to peek under). You do not need to wait for the fish to go white. Then gently flip over as you would an omelette and cook the other side for 20 seconds.

This recipe makes 2 big fritters or about 6 medium fritters. Serve the fritters with freshly ground salt and pepper, more freshly squeezed lemon, aioli or tartare sauce plus a garnish of green goodness as you feel.

For a typical kiwi whitebait meal on the go, serve between two thick buttered slices of fresh white bread.

Tip: Use shallot instead of spring onion if you like.

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