The definitive whitebait pattie

Last week the Small Girl and I took our lives in our hands and flew down to the West Coast for a few days. I don’t know why people pay huge sums to parachute or bungy jump when they come to New Zealand – merely taking off from Wellington airport in a small plane in a storm is enough to give you all the adrenaline boost you need, with a handy top-up when you land practically on the beach at Westport.
As if that wasn’t stressful enough, I then had to turn my hand to cooking whitebait fritters for a household who can remember when whitebait was so plentiful people used to put it on their gardens for fertiliser (and they say Coasters aren’t environmentally aware!)

Actually, that’s not strictly true. Following my mother-in-law’s instructions, I made the batter and my brother-in-law (showing hitherto unknown talents) cooked them. This is how to do it.

Whitebait patties
As previously mentioned, West Coasters catch (or buy) whitebait in pounds, which then get cooked in patties (not fritters). Two pounds-worth makes enough patties for four hungry adults, with the leftovers fought over for whitebait pattie sandwiches the next day.
2lbs whitebait
5 eggs
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt

First, catch your whitebait. Then rinse it carefully while listening to stories of how much better it is now that raw sewage no longer flows into the Buller River. Set aside.
Whisk the eggs and dry ingredients together to make a smooth batter, then stir in the whitebait.
Melt a generous knob of butter in a heavy frying pan. Cook the patties as if they are pikelets until golden on both sides. Serve with lemon wedges.



  1. June 12, 2012 / 6:53 pm

    Oh my goodness I am almost salivating with desire and jealousy reading this post!

    Love your blog, followed it on GFC the other day and can't wait to see more yummy posts pop up on my dashboard soon x

  2. June 13, 2012 / 8:43 am

    Argh I haven't had whitebait for so long and now I'm CRAVING a pattie! My west coast folks still talk about the old days of bringing pounds and pounds of whitebait home… sigh.

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