I cooked for some mates last week and managed four Grigsons in one evening. Pretty good going, I reckon. I’m trying to empty the freezer as I have accrued a lot of food during the autumn so things were designed around whatever I found in the deep depths of it. I found the whitebait and had completely forgotten I had bought them. I love whitebait but have never cooked them, though it was all straight-forward enough. It’s funny, but I never really thought of whitebait as an English food, I think this is because I always see it on European restaurant menus. It does have a bit of a history though; according to the Grigson there were whitebait parties held in Dagenham, London to celebrate some land draining system being built. Anyways, William Pitt (the Prime Minister at the time) was invited to one party and loved them so much he held whitebait parties at the close of each parliamentary season. So there you go. Don’t say I don’t educate you all!
To fry your own whitebait, allow them to defrost (if frozen, obv), then rinse them in some milk and allow to drain for a bit. Heat up some deep oil to around 200⁰C. Meanwhile put some seasoned flour in a large freezer bag, place the whitebait inside, seal and give it all a good shake so that they are all nicely covered. Shake off excess and fry in batches for just a minute or two. Drain and season well with salt and Cayenne pepper. Serve the little fish with brown bread and butter and some lemon wedges.
#218 Whitebait. Absolutely delicious and much better than what I’ve had done in restaurants. The flour and milk formed a light, crisp batter keeping the fish nice and soft within. Lemon and brown bread were the perfect accompaniment too. A cheap and delicious treat – go make! 8.5/10.