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Le Cordon Bleu News, 11/06/2014
Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand - Whitebait
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“Whitebait” means different things to different people around the English-speaking world, but in New Zealand it refers to the tiny translucent young of five different species of native fish, considered a major delicacy and hence much sought after during its brief spring season. With more fierce demand in the product this means prices are now astronomical, especially since the resource is increasingly under threat from pollution and destruction of habitat by dairy farmers. The consensus among cooks is that the whitebait’s subtle flavour is easily overwhelmed by herbs and spices, which explains the enduring popularity of these simple whitebait fritters, a true national dish.


Recipe = Whitebait Fritter, Beurre Blanc with Lemon and Asparagus

by Chef Francis Motta, Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand


Serves: 4

In this recipe:

  • Whitebait
  • Asparagus
  • Shallots
  • White wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
  • Lemon
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Sugar
  • Flakey Salt
  • Micro herbs or Fennel



Beurre Blanc Lemon

  • 60g shallots
  • 70mls Sauvignon Blanc
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 80g butter
  • 20g cream
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sugar

Whitebait Fritters

  • 300g whitebait
  • 1 egg
  • 20g cream
  • 10g flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Half a bunch chives
  • Zest of half a lemon


  • 14 small spears

To finish

  • Fennel
  • Lemon zest



  1. Steam and blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for one minute and refresh in iced water.
  2. Finely chop the shallots and add the lemon juice, zest, and sauvignon blanc.
  3. Reduce until the mixture is of a syrup consistency, add cream, then add the butter in small pieces whisking in between. Do not boil after the butter is added
  4. Season with salt, pepper and sugar and pass through a sieve.
  5. Drain the whitebait.
  6. Separate the egg and whisk the egg white until stiff.
  7. Make a batter with the egg yolk, flour, cream, lemon zest and chopped chives, and fold in the egg white.
  8. Season, then add the whitebait and combine together.
  9. Place in a sieve to remove the excess batter.
  10. Panfry in a blini pan with butter.
  11. Cook one side until light golden in colour then turn over and cook the other side.
  12. Serve on a plate with asparagus, beurre blanc lemon, and garnish with fennel and lemon zest.


Wine Match


A subtle dish deserves a delicate, ethereal white. NZ makes world class Riesling - choose a bone dry, crisp Central Otago wine that will enhance, not overwhelm the whitebait.

Jane Skilton, MW. Wine Director, Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand


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