Whitebait -

A small silvery-white fish, very popular in England and on the Continent, which is found in abundance in the Thames Estuary and other British waters during the spring and summer, being considered at its best in July and the first half of August. It is classed by some authorities as a separate variety, Clupea Alba, of the Clupeoid family - which includes also the shad, herring, pilchard and sprat - but it is more generally regarded as the young of the sprat and herring, often mixed probably with those of the pilchard and shad. It is most esteemed when from two to three inches long, although it is sometimes served at a length of from four to five inches. It is usually fried crisp, and is so tender that both bones and skin are eaten with the flesh.

Arround Whitebait in The Grocer's Encyclopedia

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