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Crispy-coated Whitebait with Quince Aioli

This crispy coated whitebait makes for a great starter dish. The crunchy whitebait recipe is served with a tangy quince aioli with hints of garlic and lemon.


Crispy-coated whitebait is a favourite dish all over Istanbul. Aioli is a Mediterranean type of sauce made with raw eggs, garlic and olive oil. Here I have added a fruity twist using cooked quince to create a tangy aioli, which works really well with the fish. Make sure you use top-quality fresh, free-range eggs for the aioli.

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For the aioli:
1 large quince, grated
½ tsp sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp mustard
100ml olive oil
For the whitebait:
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
4 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp crushed or ground sumac
Approx. 800g fresh whitebait

Essential kit

You will need a deep-fat fryer.

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To make the aioli:

Place the grated quince and sugar in a small saucepan and pour in enough water to cover the quince. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 3-4 minutes. Strain and cool the quince. Place the garlic, egg yolks, lemon juice and mustard in a food processor. Process and slowly drizzle in the oil. Add most of the cooked quince and fold in, making sure the mixture is well combined. Serve the aioli topped with the rest of the cooked quince.

To cook the whitebait:

Heat the vegetable oil in a deep-fat fryer to 190°C. Place the flour and sumac in a bowl, season, and stir to combine. Coat the whitebait with the flour mix, shake off the excess and deep-fry for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Serve the whitebait accompanied by the quince aioli.

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