Whitebait Fritters Recipe

When I visited the South Island of New Zealand in September 2018, it was the season for whitebait fishing. I tried the whitebait fritter at Cafe39 at Hokitika and I was amazed the local cooking style is so similar to the Chinese style, even the two countries are far apart.

Hokitika, South Island, New Zealand

Cafe 39, Hokitika

Whitebait Fritter at Cafe 39, Hokitika

The following is my Whitebait Fritter recipe (Chinese style).


  • Whitebait (150g)
  • Egg (3 pcs)
  • Green Onion (optional)
  • Chinese coriander (optional)



  • Light soy sauce (1 tablespoon)
  • Salt (a bit)
  • Cooking oil (1 tablespoon)


  • Chinese Five Spice Powder (1/8 teaspoon)
  • Chicken powder (half teaspoon)
  • Black or White Pepper Powder (a bit)
  • Corn starch (3 tablespoons)

Unless you go whitebait fishing, it is difficult to get fresh whitebait. The whitebait I used for cooking is frozen whitebait.

After defrost, get 1 tablespoon corn starch to mix with the whitebait. This is to clean the whitebait before cooking. Rinse the whitebait a few times to clear the starch.

Drip dry the whitebait. Put the whitebait in a bowl and the seasonings. Mix well.

Use a new bowl, add the eggs and seasonings. Beat the egg mixture for about 30 seconds.

Pour the whitebait into the egg mixture.

Pre-heat the wok (or frying pan) and put 6 tablespoon cooking oil and wait until the temperature is around 150 to 170 degree.

Pore the whitebait/egg mixture into the hot wok (or frying pan).

Cook the whitebait for about 4-5 minutes until the bottom side is golden. Flip over and cook the other side for another 3-4 minutes.

The whitebait fritter is ready to serve.

Green onion and Chinese coriander are optional. Some people do not like their smell. If you like the green onion or Chinese coriander, chop the green onion and coriander into small pieces and mix well before cooking.

The second cooking method is not to mix the whitebait and the egg mixture. First, pan-fry the whitebait for about 3 minutes before adding the egg mixture onto the whitebait. The whitebait will be more crispy this way. (This cooking method is better for fresh whitebait)


  1. Chinese Five Spice Powder is a mixture of 5 difference spices. The choice of spices differs by regions within China.
  2. Chinese coriander is similar to parsley in flavour.
  3. For second cooking method, more starch is needed to mix with the whitebait to make it crispy on cooking.

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