These whitebait are extra crispy as they have been toss in my own flour mix and then fried in a single layer so that every whitebait gets a chance to crisp up. Only other thing required? A squeeze of lemon and a fork.

This recipe is adapted from Vefa’s Kitchen by “Greece best-selling writer”, Vefa Alexiadou. She has a recipe, ‘Fried whitebait pie from Chois’. It was the picture of the dish that captivated me. Crispy whitebait that had obviously been pan fried in a round skillet. Visually, Vefa’s ‘pie’ was more like a large, crispy disk. It looked delicious nonetheless -almost as good as mine! Vefa uses all-purpose/plain flour to coat the whitebait/onions. I added a touch of cornflour, rice flour and baking powder to my flour mix as I know that combination will make those whitebait and onions extra crispy. I also add a pinch of oregano, the key Greek herb, as it pairs well with fried fish.

Vefa asks that I salt the onions for 30 minutes, then rinse and pat dry. I sigh on reading that. Why? Firstly, it means an extra step of work. Secondly, it means an extra 30 minutes to wait before I can eat. Fine, I told myself. I will try her way the first time round. I did purchase her cookbook after all to get some expert insights into Greek cooking.

My conclusion? Skip the salting, rinsing and drying. In fact, it is better not to. It doesn’t add to the taste and more significantly, because the onions had been salted, it makes it difficult to gauge the amount of salt to add to season the entire dish.

I find that it is also best to lay out the whitebait/onions in one single layer. The whitebait will crisp up. If you had instead piled up the whitebait as if it was a fruit pie you were making, then you would more likely end up ‘steaming’ the whitebait. It will most certainly not fry up as crispy. 

Finally, always serve this with a squeeze of lemon. It cuts the grease (we did fry them in oil after all) and gives a nice perkiness to all that briny flavour.

This is the sixth recipe for the spread of meze I served at a recent party. I prepared 10 meze that were inspired by my holiday in Greece. Click here, Greek Meze, Another Selection Of Wonderful Little Bites. Scroll down to the end of the post and you will find a table spread of all the 10 meze, the names of the meze and links to recipes that I have already posted.

Crispy Whitebait And Sweet Onions Disk

Prep: ~ 15 minutes 
Cook: ~ 13 – 16 minutes
Inactive:
Level: Moderately easy.
Serves: ~2 as a meal or 4 as part of a meze
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? Yes
Make ahead? No

Ingredients

1 cup = 250ml =8.45 US fl oz

7.05oz (200g) whitebait*
1.41oz (40g) sliced onions
3 + 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 and 1/2 Tablespoons all-purpose/plain flour
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons cornflour
1/2 Tablespoon rice flour
A pinch of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Wedge of lemon
* I can only get frozen whitebait. If the ones I had were fresh, they would look transparent. Refer to image below.

These are a variety of very fresh whitebait which was served to me at a Tokyo sushi bar. When fresh, whitebait are almost transparent.

Method

Things you need
1. You need a 9.5″ (24cm) skillet. The size of the skillet is important as you want to be able to lay out the whitebait in one single layer.
2. You would also need a plate with a slightly larger circumference as the flat base of that skillet. You will use this plate to invert the whitebait over (when one side is nicely browned) and to then slide the uncooked side back onto the skillet to finish cooking.

Prep the whitebait
1. Rinse the whitebait, drain excess water and pat them dry.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Set aside 1 Tablespoon to use later.
3. When you are ready to cook, separate the sliced onions and mix it into the whitebait together. Toss in the flour mix (remember to keep aside 1 Tablespoon) and mix well to coat.

Let’s fry
1. Heat up the skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add 3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and only when the oil is hot (pinch a little flour off the whitebait/onions, if it sizzles, it is hot), add the whitebait/onion mix.
3. With the help of a frying slice, layer the whitebait/onions into one even layer. Try not to have the whitebait stacked up onto of one another. Press it down gently to help them to adhere together. If it looks a bit dry, add a little more oil around the circumference to help it crisp up.
4. Midway through cooking, sprinkle the remaining 1 Tablespoon of flour mix. After ~8 minutes of total cooking time, check to see if the bottom has browned.


How do you know when it is ready to be flipped? 
1. The edges would have obviously browned. Next, you need to peak underneath. Use a wide-face frying slice to peak under the whitebait/onions. Is it nicely browned? Does it feel firm enough to flip it over? If it is yes to all, place the plate over the whitebait/onions. Take the frying pan to the sink.
2. If there is a lot of oil in the skillet, hold the plate steady and invert the skillet at a 45 degree angle to allow excess oil to drain. Then, flip the skillet completely upside down and the whitebait/mix would now be on your plate.
3. Set the plate down and your skillet back on the burner. I like to wipe clean my skillet with a kitchen paper towel at this time.
4. Add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and let it heat up.
5. Slide the whitebait/onions back into the hot skillet and finish cooking.
6. Once it has browned and looks crispy on this side as well, ~5 minutes, remove and serve immediately with a wedge of lemon.

Tips

(1) Use any small-sized fish. For instance, anchovies and there are other varieties of whitebait.

(2) If you intend to double the recipe, fry in two batches.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?


My Greek inspired Meze.

Advertisements