Proper whitebait or bianchetti are one of those things. Sure, you can find things called whitebait at the fishmongers but they look more like sardines. What I'm referring to are those itsy bitsy almost silverfish sized whitebait - you can buy them but they are usually frozen and from New Zealand.
In all my time I've never seen them here (perhaps I've been looking in the wrong places) so imagine my surprise when I found these local whitebait happily sitting on display at the fishmongers.
Now, you can't really tell how small they are so I've taken another shot that should put it in perspective
and, in case you are wondering, that is a normal sized paperclip.
When it came to making something with them, there was really only one thing I could make.
200 grams whitebait
50 grams cornflour
1 egg yolk
fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and white pepper
Whisk the cornflour and eggyolk together until smooth, sprinkle in a good handful of chopped parsley before seasoning with a little sea salt and white pepper. Add enough water to form a loose batter - it should have the consistency of runny cream - depending on the size of the yolk used and the cornflour you may not need to add any extra liquid.
Add the whitebait to the batter and gently fold them through making sure they are well coated.
The fritters need to be deep fried and I know that is something people are a little scared of doing, which is understandable as you are dealing with boiling hot oil.
As I've mentioned in various posts, I deep fry using a small saucepan which immediately decreases the amount of oil you are working with. You can easily get away with using just a cup of oil.
Slowly bring the oil up to the correct temperature - check it by drizzling in a few drops of batter - it should sizzle and float - if it sinks or doesn't sizzle, the oil isn't hot enough.
To make the fritters, I used a small ice cream scoop to collect a spoonful of the mixture and drop it gently into the oil - you'll find that this will naturally shape the fritters and allow you to make consistently sized fritters. You'll need to turn the fritters over to ensure they are golden all over - for bite-sized fritters, you should be aiming to cook each fritter for about two or three minutes to ensure it is cooked through.
Drain the fritters on paper towels and serve at once while they are still fluffy and hot.
It may have been a long time coming to make these fritters here in Australia and I'm not sure when I'll see them again, so I've made sure to savour every bite.