Mock whitebait fritters with quick sweet chilli sauce

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    as a side dish
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Vegetables: The new food heroes


By Peter Gordon

Published 2007

  • About

These fritters are the invention of my father, Bruce Gordon. They’re called mock whitebait fritters because in New Zealand our whitebait (which you’ll only find there and in Patagonia and parts of Tasmania) look more like elvers – tiny baby eels. When cooked they are white with black eyes – hence my adding poppy seeds to this! These fritters can be served as a party canapé if made quite small, as a starch component to a main meal, or as a late night snack – if you could be bothered setting up a deep-fryer after getting home from a party! Dad would never serve this sauce with them, but I really like it.


  • 3 large starchy potatoes, peeled
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 large egg (or use 1 egg plus the white of 1 extra egg)
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • teaspoons fine salt
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying

For the Quick Sweet Chilli Sauce

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • fresh chilli to taste, chopped (I used 3 small Thai bird’s-eye chillies and they were really deliciously hot)
  • 4 tablespoons pale palm sugar, chopped or grated (or demerara sugar)
  • grated zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce (or 2 pinches of salt)


First make the sauce: it is best to use a pestle and mortar, although a very small food processor will work at a pinch. Place the garlic, chopped chilli and sugar in the mortar and pound everything together. Add the lime zest and pound again. Mix in the citrus juices and fish sauce, and it’s ready. Set aside.

Coarsely grate the potatoes and mix with the onion, then squeeze out excess moisture – the more you get out the better. Place in a bowl and add the poppy seeds (the eyes!), the egg, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Heat vegetable oil to a depth of 6cm in a deep-fryer (or a pot) to 180°C. Have handy a tray lined with kitchen paper. You need to decide what size of fritters you want, then squeeze the mixture between your fingers and carefully drop it into the hot oil – but please, do be careful. You can also drop the mixture off a spoon into the oil. Cook the fritters until they’re golden all over, turning them in the hot oil as they cook. As they’re done, remove them from the oil and drain on the paper-lined tray.

The fritters are best eaten hot. Serve with the sauce.