Courteney had been commenting recently about how long it has been since we have been white baiting. White baiting has been an annual tradition in our family since she was was very small.
Here Courteney is aged two years, on a cold spring day, in a jacket, I made for her, helping to pick up the whitebait off the beach with her grandmother. You can just see the tiny whitebait in her little hand. We have moved on a little now and she has been promoted to catcher and the picking up of whitebait off the beach has once again become my job.
For anyone reading this who is not from New Zealand, whitebait are baby fish that swim up the river from the sea in the spring. They are actually different varieties of fish and the east coast has different whitebait to that on the west coast. Whitebait are a delicacy and very much sought after at this time of the year. We catch them in a net by manually trawling the river mouth.
The last time we caught and ate whitebait, was 2009, before our earthquakes. The river that we catch it in became polluted after the earthquakes so for the last two seasons it has not been safe to eat. All of that changed this season and normal functions have now been restored. So, on Sunday, after reports of large whitebait catches by fellow fisher people, my family, minus me, headed to the beach to try their luck. They were rewarded with 600grams of whitebait which doesn't seem a lot but if you are paying by the 100grams it would make quite a dent in your pocket.
I was responsible for cleaning off the sand and any debris and making up an egg and flour batter.....
and then finally the cooking.
Yummm! Nothing beats fresh fish!