Whitebait is a treasured delicacy in New Zealand - its wonderful taste piqued by its limited season and availability. As always, herbs and lemon enhance the flavour and along with young, fresh asparagus celebrate the arrival of spring.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soft butter
600g whitebait (100g per person)
Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mixture of micro or baby herbs - try basil, rocket, Italian parsley, bull's blood beet, mizuna - all mixed together
2 bunches fresh asparagus, blanched and refreshed, trimmed
1 pickled lemon, rind only, cut into fine strips
Avocado oil to drizzle
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Heat a large non-stick pan over a high heat. Add the olive oil and butter and swirl around until the butter has melted and is beginning to turn brown.
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2 Add the whitebait and saute until just cooked through, then season with salt and pepper.
3 Tip onto a clean tray, in a long line, and lay the micro or baby herbs alongside.
4 Sprinkle the asparagus and pickled lemon on top of the salad. Toss the salad and whitebait together gently until combined, using tongs or rubber gloves. Distribute between six plates and drizzle with avocado oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.