Whitebait fritters

Photographer: Emma

The time I realised what all the fuss is about with regards to whitebait was like a “lightbulb moment” (I hope I didn’t just use a Dr Phil idiom).  Its sweet, delicate flavour marries perfectly with lemon and not much else; less is definitely more in the case of this tiny, translucent fish.  While the more conventional way to cook this fish is to bind with egg and fry like a big pancake, I recently tried deep-fried whitebait with horopito seasoning and aioli and it made the bestsellers list in my food memories library.

Whitebait season is in full force and although I have been told stories about friends down the line casually picking up 85lbs in a morning, I paid top dollar at the local fishmonger – but I really insist you do this instead of using the imported variety.




250g NZ whitebait
2 eggs
2 egg whites

Oil for frying

Lemon wedges and sea salt to serve


1. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form.
2. Whisk whole eggs until light and fluffy and then stir in the white bait.
3. Lastly fold in the egg whites and you have the fritter mixture.
4. Heat oil in a non stick pan on medium heat.
5. Cook large spoonfuls of the fritter mixture, I cooked for approximately 3-4 minutes on each side (ensuring the first side was well cooked before flipping).
6. The fritters are best served immediately as they will soon deflate. Serve with lemon wedges and sea salt.