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Chilli and lime whitebait recipe

Chilli and lime whitebait recipe

13 ratings

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

  • Serves 4
  • 15 mins to prepare and 30 mins to cook
  • 667 calories / serving
  • Dairy-free


  • 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

  • Energy

  • Fat

    43g 61%
  • Saturates

    7g 35%
  • Sugars

    1g 1%
  • Salt

    1.5g 25%

of the reference intake
Carbohydrate 30.6g Protein 40.7g Fibre 1.9g


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

See more Summer recipes

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