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Whitebait


SobaAddict70
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Erm...well, I'll kick off a response on the assumption that "whitebait" is some kind of white fish.

In lieu of breading and deep frying chicken, pork and certain fish, we bread and pan-roast. The usual rule is 375F for chicken thighs and thick pork steaks for around 35 minutes, and 425 at around 25 minutes for thinner pork cuts. The only oil in the pan is a thin film on the bottom of the baking dish. Our breading is often, but not always, a mix of corn meal, panko (or regular bread crumbs), salt, pepper, and such spices that we think would be compatible with the meat in question.

I can't remember what we've done with fish. To be honest, we're usually more about pan-frying breaded fish in a small film of oil. It isn't deep frying, but if you're out to cut out the fat it isn't much help. Still, the principle has been the same when we tried it: shake it in a bag with the aforementioned crumb mix, set it on a baking dish or baking pan that has been treated with a film of oil for non-stick purposes, and bake at medium-high heat until done.

Does that get at what you're after?

What is whitebait, anyway? I suppose you'll tell me that it's crab. :laugh:

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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Whitebait is the generic name for the small fry of various fish. When I lived in New Zealand (where whitebait are something of a national obsession), they'd either be deep fried or made into fritters.

Soba, this doesn't take you away from frying completely, but making fritters (whitebait bound with egg white and herbs etc) generally only require shallow frying or sauteeing.

I've also had whitebait omelettes that were quite tasty. There's a small collection of whitebait recipes here, some of which avoid frying.

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I've seen whitebait omelettes.

I have to add that the reason why I'm not keen on deep-frying is that my fire alarm goes off at the slightest provocation. I'm also cooking for one and while they taste great -- they're like the fish version of French fries -- it's a lot to eat in one sitting.

I'll post pix later. Citarella was selling them for $3.99/lb. This is for dinner tomorrow so more ideas would be appreciated. :smile:

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... I have to add that the reason why I'm not keen on deep-frying is that my fire alarm goes off at the slightest provocation.  I'm also cooking for one ...

Could the answer be an enclosed thermostatically controlled electric fryer?

The vent filter should reduce the amount of "stuff" (other than steam) thrown into the air (which is what would trigger the alarm and muck up the kitchen).

Such a thing (for small quantities) should be cheap, convenient, effective and *safe*. Having seen the result of a "chip pan" fire, I really don't like deep frying without a thermostat. But its the filter lid that could be what you need.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Whitebait are very popular in England (there they are very small fish; baby I don't know what's) Mostly they are doused in flour then quickly pan fried.

I've also had them marinated in lemon or lime juice with shallot, salt & pepper. Great that way.

I've never actually marinated them myself so can't advise on recipe or timings. A googe search should turn up some technique.

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Poached or sauteed, with sauce. Ideas expanded slightly, but without firm recipes because we always do this on the fly:

Poach them, then add a sauce of your choosing: lemon-dill, lemon-mustard, white wine reduction with herbs and cream are some ideas.

If the whitebait is big enough to wrap into rolls around small spears of carrot or celery, you could make little rolls, tie them and poach them like that. The presentation might be a little more elegant, although it might be more work than it's worth...

Dust the filets with seasonings of your choice, then saute them - it doesn't take long, doesn't use much oil, and won't set off the alarm if you don't have too much exposed pan surface (I have experience in my mother's kitchen). When browned and nearly cooked, remove to plate to finish in slightly warm oven. ("Warm" or 200F will do.) Use the saute pan to make a sauce. Some ideas:

Garlic, lemon, a touch of Dijon mustard (we like Trader Joe's garlic aioli mustard, but you may not have it ready to hand), white wine;

Mushrooms, cream, tarragon;

Lemon, dill, and either cream or wine or butter depending on how fatty or clear you want the sauce.

I personally haven't had much luck with tomato-type sauces on fish, but I know it's popular.

Does this get along the ideas you're after? Or are you leaning toward something like whitebait en papillote? Or casseroles?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

Follow us on social media! Facebook; instagram.com/egulletx; twitter.com/egullet

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Small fish are very well-suited for Bengali curries(the water of the Bengali delta is filled with dozens of varieties of small fish that are caught and cooked).

The basic steps for any curry are to saute large amount of onion and a little ginger with some salt in neutral oil over medium heat till very soft, then add ground cumin, corriander, cayenne and turmeric and gently fry the spices till fragrant. Stir in the fish, add a little water, and cook over medium heat until the sauce reduces/thickens and the fish are done.

I didn't put amounts because it depends how much fish you add, whether you want to add vegetables/potatoes, etc. I can give a better ballpark based on weight.

Edited by Sony (log)
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Could the answer be an enclosed thermostatically controlled electric fryer?

The vent filter should reduce the amount of "stuff" (other than steam) thrown into the air (which is what would trigger the alarm and muck up the kitchen).

Such a thing (for small quantities) should be cheap, convenient, effective and *safe*. Having seen the result of a "chip pan" fire, I really don't like deep frying without a thermostat. But its the filter lid that could be what you need.

Not possible in my apartment. I should take pix of the kitchen so you can see what a laughably small space I have.

It's about the size of a bathroom. That's another story for another day though. :wink:

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Poached or sauteed, with sauce.  Ideas expanded slightly, but without firm recipes because we always do this on the fly:

Poach them, then add a sauce of your choosing:  lemon-dill, lemon-mustard, white wine reduction with herbs and cream are some ideas.

If the whitebait is big enough to wrap into rolls around small spears of carrot or celery, you could make little rolls, tie them and poach them like that.  The presentation might be a little more elegant, although it might be more work than it's worth...

Dust the filets with seasonings of your choice, then saute them - it doesn't take long, doesn't use much oil, and won't set off the alarm if you don't have too much exposed pan surface (I have experience in my mother's kitchen).  When browned and nearly cooked, remove to plate to finish in slightly warm oven.  ("Warm" or 200F will do.)  Use the saute pan to make a sauce.  Some ideas:

Garlic, lemon, a touch of Dijon mustard (we like Trader Joe's garlic aioli mustard, but you may not have it ready to hand), white wine;

Mushrooms, cream, tarragon;

Lemon, dill, and either cream or wine or butter depending on how fatty or clear you want the sauce.

I personally haven't had much luck with tomato-type sauces on fish, but I know it's popular.

Does this get along the ideas you're after?  Or are you leaning toward something like whitebait en papillote?  Or casseroles?

This sounds more like it. I wanted to do something that didn't involve deep-frying. Thanks Smithy. I was all set to do a whitebait flan but needed some more ideas.

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They are just like fish french fries, and when you see a small child scarfing them down feel free to point out the little tiny eyes. It makes said small child FREAK out :laugh:

tracey

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They are just like fish french fries, and when you see a small child scarfing them down feel free to point out the little tiny eyes. It makes said small child FREAK out :laugh:

tracey

Uh, yes. When I was about 7, and happily scarfing a plate of whitebait, my big brother suggested I think about "all those eyes, looking around my throat on the way down".

I lost it, figuratively and literally. Lost it all over 'im. :angry::cool:

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  • 4 months later...

I bought some whitebait the other day, and cooked them in the style that I normally cook salt & pepper squid. The flavour was great, but the heads of the whitebait had a very unpleasant gritty texture, almost like sand. Is this normal for whitebait?

Dr. Zoidberg: Goose liver? Fish eggs? Where's the goose? Where's the fish?

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