Delightfully dishy devilled whitebait with gorgeous green sauce and tantalisingly tasty Tyrrells sweet chilli & red pepper crisps
Serves 4 people as a starter
750ml sunflower oil
6 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp semolina
1 tsp English mustard powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
400g whitebait, thawed if frozen
lemon, cut into wedges, for squeezing
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp flaked sea salt, plus extra to season
150ml sunflower oil
2 tbsp cold water
1 small shallot, peeled and quartered
1 small garlic clove, peeled
15g parsley leaves
15g fresh sorrel or basil leaves
10g fresh mint leaves
10g tarragon leaves
1 tbsp baby capers, drained
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
Tyrrells sweet chilli & red pepper crisps, to serve
To make the green sauce, Si suggests putting the egg yolks, vinegar, mustard, and sugar into the small bowl of a food processor. Season with the salt and a couple of twists of freshly ground black pepper. Don’t use a large processor or the sauce won’t combine properly. If you don’t have a food processor with a small bowl, you can use a stick blender. And if you don’t have a food processor at all, use a whisk and elbow grease.
Blitz the ingredients until well-combined then. With the motor still running, gradually pour the oil into the bowl in a very thin stream, and blend until the egg mixture is smooth and thick.
Add the shallot, garlic, capers, all the herbs and lemon juice, and blend again until finely chopped and the sauce is green. If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop the shallot, capers, and herbs by hand and crush the garlic, before adding to the sauce.
Adjust the seasoning to taste and add 1 tbsp of cold water. Blend or mix for a few seconds more until the sauce has a soft and spoonable consistency, adding a little more water if necessary. Divide between four small serving bowls or ramekins.
For the whitebait, pour the oil into a medium saucepan and heat to 180°C/160°C/Gas 4, checking the temperature using a cooking thermometer. CAUTION: don’t allow the oil to overheat, and don’t leave hot oil unattended. You can also use an electric deep fat fryer, following the manufacturer’s directions.
While the oil is heating, put the flour, semolina, mustard powder, and cayenne pepper into a large bowl. Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper and mix well. Next, put the whitebait in a colander, rinse under cold water and drain.
When the oil is at the right temperature, take a quarter of the slightly damp whitebait and toss in the seasoned flour mixture. Lift out with a slotted spoon and give it a quick shake to remove excess flour – the fish only needs alight coating. The flour won’t stick if the fish is too dry, so rinse it with a little more water and drain again if necessary.
Gently lower the floured whitebait into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes until crisp and golden, stirring once towards the end of the cooking time to separate the fish. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a baking tray lined with kitchen roll. Keep an eye on the temperature of the oil as you cook – it may get hotter, but will also cool quickly once the fish is added.
Spice things up and serve alongside tyrrebly tasty Tyrrells sweet chilli & red pepper crisps.