SALT & PEP­PER WHITE­BAIT WITH ROASTED AS­PARA­GUS & DAVID’S TANGY LE­MON DRESS­ING

NZ Life & Leisure - - Ruth Pretty -

If you can’t get white­bait, rein­vent mock white­bait by us­ing sliv­ered cooked sil­ver­beet stalks or cooked grated po­tato in its place. 1.5-1.8kg evenly sized as­para­gus, fi­brous stem-ends re­moved 4 ta­ble­spoons ex­tra vir­gin olive oil 1 spring onion, white and half the green part, thinly sliced 1 red chilli, halved, de­seeded, thinly sliced ½ cup flavour­less oil (rice bran or canola) 250g-400g white­bait, drained and laid out on paper tow­els ¾-1 cup po­tato flour (avail­able at se­lected New World stores) Szechuan Pep­per Salt (see recipe) David’s Tangy Le­mon Dress­ing (see recipe)

Pre­heat oven to 180°C. Place as­para­gus onto one or two low-sided bak­ing trays, driz­zle with the olive oil and sprin­kle with 1 tea­spoon flaky sea salt and ¼ tea­spoon freshly ground black pep­per. Toss well and then spread as­para­gus out so that stems are not touch­ing.

Roast for 8-12 min­utes (cook­ing time will vary ac­cord­ing to thick­ness of as­para­gus), or un­til be­gin­ning to soften but still bright green and firm to the bite. Re­move from oven and trans­fer to a plat­ter.

For the white­bait: Com­bine spring onion and chilli. Place a heavy-based fry­ing pan over a medium heat and when hot add half the oil. Add spring onion/chilli mix and cook un­til crispy but still brightly coloured. Re­move and drain on paper tow­els. Re­tain the oil in the pan to cook the white­bait.

Put half the white­bait in a bowl. Sift over half the po­tato starch and gen­tly toss to evenly coat the white­bait, keep­ing them all sep­a­rate.

Im­me­di­ately add pre­pared white­bait to the hot fry­ing pan. Gen­tly toss af­ter 15 sec­onds us­ing a fish slice. Cook for a fur­ther 10-15 sec­onds or un­til just cooked and opaque. Re­move to a warm plate and cover with a tea towel while you re­peat process with re­main­ing white­bait.

Sprin­kle cooked white­bait with Szechuan Pep­per Salt and spring onion/chilli mix­ture. Serve im­me­di­ately along­side the warm as­para­gus ac­com­pa­nied by David’s Tangy Le­mon Dress­ing. Serves 8

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