I'd always been fascinated by the food I saw in old-school American movies. You know the ones: the cook is out back working a greased hotplate with a spatula. There are fried eggs, hash, maybe bacon on the go. You'd also see the savoury waffle which was something that totally mystified me.

Eventually I visited the amazing Schwartz's Deli in Montreal where they had hotplate food galore. While they didn't serve waffles, I found one on that same trip, at a roadside waffle house. But I didn't really get it. I think I expected something similar to eggy bread or French toast, but those mass-produced waffles just didn't live up to the hype.

We've dabbled with them here at Culprit over the years, refining and elevating this very humble dish, adding a level of crispness with a perfected recipe that includes wholemeal flour for more flavour and texture.

Now, with the addition of our all-day and late-night wine bar & lounge, Little Culprit, we finally have a place for my ode to the waffle.

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Little Culprit is a place for Street's ode to the waffle. Photo / Supplied
Little Culprit is a place for Street's ode to the waffle. Photo / Supplied

Kyle Street is the chef and co-owner of Culprit and Little Culprit on Auckland's Wyndham St.

Smoked kahawai waffle with hot sauce mayonnaise

Waffles in Montreal were confusing to street: I expected something more similar to eggy bread or French toast, but those mass-produced waffles just didn't live up to the hype. Photo / Getty Images
Waffles in Montreal were confusing to street: I expected something more similar to eggy bread or French toast, but those mass-produced waffles just didn't live up to the hype. Photo / Getty Images

The secret to a good waffle is heat. Get your waffle iron quite hot before starting, and use a little oil to help release the waffle. I prefer cast-iron waffle makers that you use on the stove, but I also own a little electric number I can pull out in emergencies.

Wholemeal waffle batter

Makes 6 large waffles

125g wholemeal flour
100g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
A pinch of sugar
100g butter (melted and cooled)
150g buttermilk
150g milk
3 eggs

300g smoked kahawai ((50g per waffle)

1. Mix the dry ingredients well in a medium bowl.
2. Make a well In a separate bowl, mix the milk, egg and buttermilk till combined.
3. Add to the well and bring together till just combined but smooth.
4. Fold through the warm - not hot - butter. Chill till ready to use.
5. Heat a waffle iron to max, lightly greased with cooking spray is great.
6. Add a hefty spoonful of the mix to the waffle iron, place the picked smoked fish on top, close the iron and cook as required by instructions.

Huffman's hot sauce mayo

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100g mayonnaise
2 tsp Huffman's not-so-hot sauce (or whatever's in your fridge)
2 tsp lemon juice
A pinch of sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whip with a spatula till it comes together and is smooth.

Serve with capers, dill, sliced lemon and grated boiled egg over the top.