Mixed with a few whisked eggs, a shake of salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon and a knob of butter for cooking is how most people like to enjoy their whitebait.
Soaked in an industrial chemical more familiar as a solvent or the intoxicating ingredient in many a tipple, not so much.
But a light-fingered person at University of Canterbury could be in for a nasty surprise when fork meets mouth after 20kg of whitebait frozen in ethanol for research was pinched from a campus storage facility.
As if ingesting a chemical-soaked version of the delicacy wasn't enough, the whitebait had also been thawed several times, the University of Canterbury warned late last night.
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"We've been advised that about 20kg of whitebait frozen in ethanol for research and thawed on several occasions was discovered missing from a locked storage facility on campus yesterday [Thursday]", they wrote in an email, later posted by one recipient to Twitter.
"This was reported to police. We have issued a public statement as we're concerned that anyone who consumes this whitebait could become quite ill and we're urging the person who has taken the whitebait to discard it immediately."
It wasn't just the Kiwi favourite - whose short and much anticipated season can see retail prices top $140/kg - swiped from the storage facility.
Frozen barracuda was also stolen and should also be discarded immediately, the university tweeted.