Whitebait is the name with which the newborn fish of some species belonging to the Clupeidae family are classified (especially sardines, anchovies, shads). However, there are also other dialectal terms to identify this marine small fishes: for example, in Liguria, the young anchovies are called "gianchetti".
These small fishes, whose length does not exceed half-inch, appear as a whitish mass and can be fished only in the period between December and April (in the other months of the year fishing is strictly prohibited). The whitebait must be carefully cleaned of any waste and washed (the ideal would be to do it with sea water) in salted water. They lend themselves to being boiled, throwing them for a few minutes in boiling water, or used for omelettes or pancakes.