Whitebait are Kiwi as, but sadly they seem to be under-utilised by many backcountry chefs. Next time you find yourself with a fresh batch of these glorious little fish, don’t just toss them in an omelette – give this a go!
Serves: Light meal for two
Cost: $19 (though this depends on the market price for whitebait. The best bet is to find someone with a whitebaiting stand and bribe them with pinot!)
Fuel: 75ml of white spirit or 25g of gas*
*Based on an MSR Whisperlite operating at sea level.
100ml rice brain oil
1 cup mizuna lettuce, chopped
1 handful coriander, chopped
1 handful mint, chopped
1 cup Basmati rice
1 cup vermicelli noodles
10 rice paper sheets
Salt and pepper
3 egg yolks
200ml olive oil
2tbsp lemon juice
2tbsp white wine vinegar
A whisk and a couple of spare bowls for soaking noodles and rice paper.
Make the mayonnaise by whisking the yolks of three eggs until smooth, add the lemon juice, vinegar and a pinch of salt. Continue whisking while gradually adding the olive oil until you reach a desirable consistency. Taste and add more salt, pepper, vinegar and lemon if needed.
To make the whitebait rolls, add the rice bran oil to a shallow pan and bring up to temperature. Drain the whitebait and place in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with flour, add to the pan and fry until golden brown.
Cook the rice and vermicelli as per instructions, drain and set aside along with the other spring roll stuffing.
Soak a sheet of rice paper in hot water for 30sec or until soft. Lay out on a plate and add a small amount of the fried whitebait, mizuna, coriander, mint and vermicelli (use less than you think: it’s better to have skinny rolls, than fat ones that fall to pieces.) Fold the sides in, then roll.
Serve on a bed of rice with a little bit of mayonnaise on the side for dipping.