Paprika Fried Whitebait with Garlic Aioli (A Spanish Tapa)

Paprika Fried Whitebait with Garlic Aioli (A Spanish Tapa)

A spicy delicious take on a classic Spanish Tapa that is simple and easy to make. I kind of adapted this quite honestly from an italian recipe after seeing it around in Madrid. The paprika cuts through the salty whitebait, and small sardines work well too. I think the fried slivers of garlic tossed on top are a really nice addition.

Serves 2 as a starter.

  • 2 large handfuls of fresh whitebait or any variety of tiny whole fish
  • 1 cup of potato starch, 1tbsp of semolina flour (or plain flour if you don’t have the starch, it just makes it crispier)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1/3 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt/ 6 grinds of pepper
  • juice of 1 and ½ lemons
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ cup olive oil for alioli
  • ½ cup grapeseed oil (or any neutral oil, like vegetable oil)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley

First you will want to make the sauce. Put your egg yolks in a food processor with half a squeeze of lemon, garlic cloves, vinegar, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Begin blending and then very slowly add the oils via a small stream from the top opening of the processor. If it is not thick enough, add more grapeseed oil. Set aside in a small dish for dipping. Extra sauce will keep for a couple of weeks. Prepare your lemon wedges and chop your parsley.

Then you will need a large plastic sealable bag. Put your potato starch/flour into bag with paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Wash and dry your fish (dry very very well) and place them into the plastic bag and seal. Shake vigorously. Heat your vegetable oil to a very high heat. Shake off excess flour and place on a plate. In two batches place the whitebait into the oil with a spatula, making sure they are separated as they go in. fry until golden, or about 2 or 3 minutes. Dry on paper towels. Add more salt to taste, but do this while hot.

Place in a bowl with some sort of napkin underneath so they remain crispy. Toss the parsley with the fish and serve with aioli and lemon wedges. Serve immediately for full crispiness.

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