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The One Hundy Gram Whitebait Fritter

Photography by Kieran Scott

Whitebait are a seasonal delicacy in New Zealand. Chef Al Brown gives his take on the classic whitebait fritter.

The One Hundy Gram Whitebait Fritter

Serves 6

Step 1. Egg Batter

8 whole eggs (medium)

¾ cup self-raising flour, sifted

Step 2. Tarragon Salt

¼ cup canola oil

¼ cup picked tarragon leaves

¼ cup flaky sea salt

Step 3. To Cook and Serve

600g whitebait, rinsed and drained egg batter

flaky sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

canola oil for cooking

100g salted butter, cubed

12 slider buns (or similar)

2 handfuls watercress, washed and picked

1 cup mayonnaise (see recipe below)

tarragon salt

juice of 2 lemons

A Kiwi delicacy. We wanted to offer the kind of fritter your nana would make – handfuls of whitebait barely held together by batter. Whitebait have a very delicate flavour, you don’t need to overcomplicate it: white trash bread, mayo and a generous squeeze of lemon is all you need. –KS

Heard it with my bad ear . . . –AB

Step 1. Egg Batter

Whisk the eggs and sifted flour together in a mixing bowl until the batter is smooth. Rest the batter, or refrigerate until required.

Step 2. Tarragon Salt

Place your canola oil and tarragon leaves in a saucepan on medium heat. Simmer for 5–10 minutes until all the moisture has been removed from the leaves and they no longer bubble. Remove with a sieve and drain on paper towels.

Put the fried tarragon and half your salt into a mortar and pestle, then grind into a green paste. Transfer the green paste and the remaining salt to a jar, seal with a lid, and shake to combine. Store in the jar until required.

Step 3. To Cook and Serve

Preheat the oven to 150ºC.

Mix 100g of the whitebait with a third of a cup of batter. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a 15cm skillet with a little canola oil on medium heat. Add 2 cubes of butter, and swirl around until foaming. Pour in the fritter mixture and turn the heat up to high. Cook for 2–3 minutes until golden around the edge, then flip the fritter and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Hold the fritters in the oven while you repeat the process, or just make one large fritter in a bigger skillet using all the mixture.

Split the slider buns, brush the tops with butter and toast in the oven until crisp and hot through.

Serve up your 100g whitebait fritters on the toasted sliders with fresh watercress, a dollop of thick mayo, a sprinkling of tarragon salt and a hit of lemon juice.

Al’s Mayonnaise

Makes 5 cups 

This mayo recipe has been kicking around with me forever. I think a version of it has been in every cookbook I have published, and for good reason. It works and it’s delicious! –AB

9 egg yolks

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup cider vinegar

1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard

3½ tablespoons sugar

100ml olive oil

1.4 litres canola oil

flaky sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

 

Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and sugar in a food processor, then blitz to combine. While blitzing, pour in the oils in a continuous stream, until fully incorporated. Your mayo will become thick and glossy. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and refrigerate until required. Keeps for 2 weeks.

This recipe is extracted from Depot: Biography of a Restaurant (Random House) by Al Brown. Photography by Kieran Scott

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