whitebait with watercress pesto & buerre blanc




Prep Time


Cook Time

Definitely my favourite whitebait recipe. This is a very classy starter.



For the whitebait with watercress pesto & buerre blanc

  • 500g fresh whitebait — rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salad greens, to serve
  • Lemon wedges, to garnish


  • 2 cups watercress
  • 1⁄4 cup cashews
  • 1⁄4 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 1⁄2 clove garlic
  • 1⁄2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste


  • 1⁄2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 2 teaspoons very finely diced shallots
  • 100g butter — diced and chilled
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste


For the whitebait with watercress pesto & buerre blanc

  • To make the Watercress Pesto, blitz all the ingredients in a food processor.
  • To make the Beurre Blanc, place the wine, lemon juice, cream and shallots in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium-high heat.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 4–5 minutes until reduced by about three-quarters.
  • Reduce the heat to low and whisk in one cube of butter at a time, waiting until each is melted before adding the next. Once all the butter has been incorporated the sauce will have a thick, luxurious texture.
  • Add the cayenne pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside.
  • To cook the whitebait, heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the whitebait and fry for 45–60 seconds, swirling the pan.
  • Gently stir in as much Watercress Pesto as you like, then stir in the Beurre Blanc.
  • Divide the salad greens between 6 small plates or ramekins, top with the whitebait mixture and serve each with a wedge of lemon.