Here we are again…For us here in the ‘bottom half’ of the world it is almost time to dust off the flip-flops and sun loungers, squeeze our winter-padded selves back into itsy-bitsy bikinis and embrace the smell of sunscreen and after-sun. It is also time to return to a style of cooking and eating that is simple, fresh and light. This weekend I got into the summer swing of things by jazzing up a classic crowd pleaser – crispy whitebait.
Tiny, shimmery-skinned whitebait are tossed in a mixture of semolina and flour and lightly fried until crisp and golden. Served with a summer-spirited salad made from mint, basil, coriander, crunchy bean shoots, and wasabi peas.
½ cup plain flour
½ cup fine semolina
Freshly ground black pepper
Rice bran oil, or olive oil, for frying
For the salad:
1 cup bean shoots
¼ cup wasabi peas
½ cup mint leaves
½ cup coriander leaves
½ cup basil leaves
For the dressing:
¼ cup young coconut juice
¼ cup lime juice
½ tbsp palm sugar
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 small chilli, roughly chopped
For the dressing, combine all ingredients in bowl and stir until sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
Preheat a little oil in a fry pan over medium-high heat. Combine the flour and semolina in a shallow dish, season to taste. Dust the whitebait in the flour mixture making sure each little fish is well covered. In batches, fry the whitebait for about 4-5 minutes, until crisp and light golden. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining fish.
Combine the herbs, wasabi peas, and bean shoots in a bowl. Drizzle with dressing and toss gently. Place the salad in a bowl – used one half of a fresh coconut, from which I got the coconut juice for the dressing.
Serve the crispy whitebait with the side salad and wedges of lime.