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what they are, why are they banned and what are the alternatives

THE white bait Where gianchetti are the juveniles of blue fish: i “newborn” fish of anchovies and sardines. Small enough not to protrude two millimeters long but so tasty that they are the protagonists of emblematic and traditional dishes of the Ligurian and Calabrian coastwhite bait is known to light color and the gelatinous consistencylive on Mediterranean waters and right on our shores it’s fishing prohibited By the lawdue toenvironmental impact is no longer sustainable. How to recognize white bait? How to tell them apart from other species like lipsticks and icefish? Why are white baits prohibited? To cook is here to answer all your questions.

What are white baits and how are they cooked

With the term white bait refers to the juveniles of certain species of blue fish: L’Engranulis encrasicolus (anchovy) and the Sardine pilchardus. Also known as gianchetti, whitebait is gods little fish barely born, they appear as a gelatinous, translucent mass of milk color, not more than two millimeters long. Juvenile anchovies and sardines are particularly prevalent in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, while rarer are those of sand lance and other species such as sea bream. To distinguish whether it is anchovies or sardine bait, being identical shapewe can only refer to the period of fishing who nevertheless currently it is (fortunately) forbidden for reasons of environmental sustainability.

Although the fishing ban came into force as early as 2006, there are several recipes that see these small fish as protagonists, especially in some gastronomic traditions like those of Liguria and Calabria. Before the ban on fishing, the white bait was eaten after cooking in different preparations: in rich fried fish or in omelettes with a strong taste, the white bait is used for a particular Calabrian specialty, the “mustica”a spicy appetizer that is eaten on slices of toast.


because they are forbidden

The fishing with white bait occurs (or rather was granted) in particular on coastal areas by the use of very tight mesh nets said in Ligurian jargonsciabgottuthe only ones capable of catching such small sea products: it is nevertheless a type of environmentally unsustainable fishing because responsible for dangerous fish shocks that alter the natural balance of the sea and its “inhabitants”.


In Italy the fishing, marketing and administration white baits were the subject of a long debate which also involved the European community and, through a series of ministerial orderswere permanently banned with the Law 154 of july from 2006.

How to replace white bait: lipsticks and icefish

THE white bait they can be replaced easily and even very often there are small fish very similar on the fishmongers’ stalls: don’t worry, in this case you won’t have to report the reseller for surely you will buy gods goldfish or icefish recruits. What is it about? THE lipstick are fish belonging to the Family of Gobies (we are therefore not talking about a blue fish): slender body of tiny dimensions and of a light color tending towards red; once the “adults” do not exceed four or five centimeters length; in the kitchen, they are served breaded and fried in boiling oil or in thin and tasty omelettes.

Not only lipsticks: on the market there are also ice fisha species belonging to the Family of Salangidae widespread in all brackish, tropical and subtropical waters of China. Icefish has a slim and elongated body whose length does not exceed six centimeters: this is fished on an industrial scalesold and employed (particularly in Italy) as a surrogate mother (certainly less valuable) of the whitebait to which it approaches not only for the taste but also for the culinary use.


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