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Whitebait and stuffed jalapenos February 26, 2012

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Fish.

This weekend has been one of the few super hot weekends we’ve had this summer. Like the whole world, it seems the seasons are not necessarily doing what we expect them to. While I think most people are relieved to not have a whole week of plus-40ºC temperatures, it is a little strange to have a summer when it’s barely hit 30. This weekend was the exception, and I wanted to make something which wouldn’t involve large amounts of heat in the kitchen.

I hadn’t yet decided what to make when I visited the fishmonger and saw some fabulous, super fresh whitebait. I decided to pair the whitebait with some jalapeno peppers I’d been given, and fry both the whitebait and the jalapenos. In case you were wondering what 500g of whitebait looks like, here you go.

Preparing the whitebait was extremely simple: I placed some flour, salt, pepper and paprika in a plastic bag. I patted the whitebait so they were dried, added them to the bag and shook them around until they were all coated with the flour mixture.

I then turned to the jalapenos. I made a stuffing mixture of tomatoes, bacon (my favourite homemade batch to date!), oregano, and egg and matzo meal to bind (I’d like to say there was a complicated smart reason I used matzo meal instead of breadcrumbs, but really, I was out of breadcrumbs).

I cut each jalapeno open and pulled out as much of the innards as I could. I stuffed the mixture into the now empty jalapenos, and rolled each one in egg, flour, egg and matzo meal.

I admit I wasn’t as careful as I should have been in ensuring that all parts of the jalapeno were covered by the matzo meal, which led to some falling off during the frying process.

Now for the actual fry. I admit I am not an experienced deep fryer, and have not deep fried much except for pig’s ears. This time, I used grapeseed oil, and used my candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil so I was sure it was hot enough before I added the food. I have also learned to be more patient when frying, and not take the food out the second after it goes in – if the oil temperature is OK, the food won’t be absorbing much oil anyway.

I started with the jalapenos, cooking them for about 7 minutes, until the outside was golden brown and, where the mazto meal had fallen off, the jalapeno was dark green and wrinkled. I then cooked the whitebait in batches and these only took about 2 or 3 minutes per batch.

Unlike when frying pig’s ears, there was no spitting oil or exploding fat, and my kitchen remained oil spatter free! Amazing. After all the batches of whitebait were cooked, I served everything on a platter with some wedges of lemon.

The whitebait were crunchy and delicious, still tasting of the sea. The jalapenos were spicier than I was expecting, but I loved the contrast of the crunchy exterior, the spicy chili and the flavoursome stuffing.

This was a great meal for a hot day. The entire cooking time was about 10 or 15 minutes, and the whole meal was super easy to prepare. As well as being a good meal to prepare on a hot day, it was a good meal to eat on a hot day – we grabbed the whitebait with our fingers, squeezing on lemon as necessary. Having successfully deep fried both the fish and the jalapenos, I’m also more confident about deep frying more in the future.


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