Wash the whitebait with great care, and dry well by rubbing them in a napkin. Roll them in flour, using enough to entirely cover them. Toss them on a sieve to shake off the loose flour. Place them in a fine wire basket, and immerse in smoking hot fat for one minute, or just long enough to give them a light amber color. The fish are so small, it takes but a moment to cook them, and there is danger of burning them by leaving them in the fat too long. They should be crisp and dry. Only enough to make one layer on the bottom of the basket should be fried at once. Too many will cool the fat, and also will stick together. The fat must be brought to the right degree of heat before putting in the second basketful. They should be floured only just before going into the fat. The flour becomes damp if it remains on the fish for any time, and they will then neither take color nor become crisp. Turn them on to a paper, sprinkle with salt, and keep them in a warm oven until all are cooked. Have a hot dish with a folded napkin on it standing on the warming shelf. Place the whitebait between the folds of the napkin, and serve immediately. They cool rapidly, and should not be cooked until just in time to serve. They are easily prepared, and very nice when crisp and hot, but will not be right unless care is given to the small details. Serve with quarters of lemon.
WHITEBAIT. (SEE PAGE 118).