Chilli and lime whitebait recipe
Transport your tastebuds to the seaside with this classic whitebait recipe that's perfect for enjoying alfresco as part of a seafood spread. Season the fish with zesty lime and a kick of chilli, before deep frying until golden and crisp. Serve with lime wedges and dips for dunking – check out our tips for our favourite dips below. See method
- 800g counter sprats
- 200g plain flour
- 2 limes, zested, 1 cut into 8 wedges
- 2 tsp garlic granules
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper or mild chilli powder, plus a pinch
- 1ltr vegetable oil, for frying
If you don't have any limes, try a lemon instead
Each serving contains
of the reference intake
- Clean the sprats under cold, running water for a few secs, drain, then dry completely with kitchen paper. Mix together the flour, half the lime zest, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, the garlic granules and the cayenne pepper.
- Pour the oil into a deep, heavy- based saucepan, no more than half full. Heat over a medium-high heat until it reaches 180°C on a digital thermometer, or until a cube of bread sizzles immediately and browns within 30 secs.
- In small batches, toss the sprats in the seasoned flour. Shake off any excess, then gently lower into the oil with a slotted spoon and fry in batches for 4-5 mins until golden and crisp. Remove with the slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper while you fry the remaining fish. When all the fish are cooked, sprinkle over a pinch more cayenne pepper and a little salt, and squeeze over the juice of 3 lime wedges. The cooking oil isn't reusable as it contains fish, so allow it to cool completely in the pan (covered), then use a jug to pour into empty jars or milk cartons. Seal and discard.
- Serve the whitebait with dips of your choice (options below) and the remaining lime wedges.
Thousand island dip: Mix together 3 parts lighter mayonnaise with 1 part tomato ketchup. Stir in a little Dijon mustard, a splash of white wine vinegar and a pinch of paprika.
Bloody Mary ketchup: Add a few tsp Worcestershire sauce, a few dashes of tabasco and a pinch of celery salt to a ramekin of tomato ketchup to give it a spicy kick.
Cheat's tartare: Mix mayonnaise with enough lemon juice to loosen slightly, then stir finely chopped capers, cornichons and flat-leaf parsley to taste; season.
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