Pan Fried Whitebait


The last few weeks have been busy. Some good things, some bad ~ just life’s rich pattern, I guess.

We’ve been eating old favourites, partly for comfort food as Winter gave Spring a nasty kick up the rear.  Partly for sheer speed.  When my brain is busy with other matters, cooking is for sustenance rather than fun.

It was a salutary reminder that many of you are combining jobs with the home tasks which include feeding your families.  One of the joys of retirement is that I have had time to potter in the kitchen instead of rushing to get a meal on the table in record time.

So, what could be better than a meal which takes 2 minutes to cook and is wonderfully tasty and good for you. And which is a rare treat due to price and concerns about sustainability?

Whitebait are not a species of fish but the immature fry of many species, depending on where they are caught.  In Northern Europe, they are usually sprats, most commonly herring and delight in the Latin name of Sprattus Sprattus.

In England, most of the whitebait we buy used to come from the River Thames, before it became so polluted.  Now it comes from the Baltic Sea and is frozen.  I would only buy fresh if I was absolutely sure they were caught the same day.  That’s not likely to happen any time soon, mores the pity.


All you have to do is defrost them (some people say they can be cooked from frozen but I prefer to defrost and then rinse and dry them.  They are tiny, about 50 mm tops and are eaten whole.


Dip them in milk and then flour and fry for about 2 minutes on a high heat, turning (very gently) now and then. You can see that I use a Splatter Guard which is a great help in keeping splashes of oil from the cooker ~ much appreciated by my one man clean up crew.


Then, remove with a slotted spoon, allowing the fat to drain. and serve with a simple salad and a nice chunk of home made bread.


Preparation time : 5 min

Cooking time : 3 minutes

Difficulty? : Easy

Freezing? :No

Portions : 2

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