Cooking fish - whiting

12 August 2009
I thought I should say a bit about our climate here after a few comments and emails yesterday. We live in a wonderful area of Australia - it's classified sub-tropical but we live at the bottom of a mountain range, back maybe 15 km from the beach, and during winter, it can be quite cold, by our standards. We lived in Germany for two years when we married so I know how cold it can get but here where we live, the temperature never gets below freezing and there are no frosts. Our severe weather events are tropical storms that can dump a foot of rain in a few hours and bring down forest trees that have been standing for half a century.

We live half way up the east coast of Australia. Down south there is snow and winter rain, up north it is mild all year. In Darwin, for instance, one of our northern capital cities, the temperature sits on 33C (91F) most of the year and in Winter drops to 28C (82F). They have wild humidity though and in the wet season - summer - just sitting in a chair is enough to make you sweat. But here the climate allows us to plant all year. We have summer crops - eggplants, peppers, tomatoes etc, and winter ones - cabbages, onions, cauliflower and kale, but with careful planning we can have quite a nice selection of vegetables growing for the table all year. Sometimes in the summer it's too hot and we have to put up shade tunnels, and some years, in the middle of summer, we get a lot of bugs, but overall, it's manageable and if we persevere we are able to eat fresh organic food from our own backyard without too much fuss all year long.

One of our favourite meals is fresh fish from the local fisherman's co-op served with a salad from the garden. Recently we were lucky enough to find whiting at the co-op so we snapped up a kilo of it. I think there may be several different types of whiting throughout the world. The one we have here is school whiting that swims along the coastline in the sandy shallows. They're small fish, a white, silvery colour and have a delicate flavour. If you have a fishmonger who will clean and fillet the fish, you can have a healthy and delicious meal on a plate in less than 30 minutes.

I decided to batter the whiting with a light tempura batter. It suited it perfectly and both Hanno and I enjoyed our meal very much.

½ cup plain (all purpose) flour
½ cup cornflour (cornstarch) - read here about cornflour
1 lightly beaten egg
¾ cup cold water - cold from the fridge

Sift the flours together, add beaten egg and half the water and mix together thoroughly. Then add the rest of the water, making sure you have a smooth light batter. Let it rest for a few minutes before dipping each piece of fish into the batter.

Take the fish from the batter and place carefully into a pan of very hot oil. I use a small frying pan for this - to which I've added about ¼ cup of olive oil. Batter and cook all the fish, turn each piece after about one minute, and give it another minute of the other side. I squeeze lemon juice over the fish at this point while it's still cooking. If the fish are small it will only take a couple of minutes to cook each piece so have your salad and plates ready before you cook the fish.

If you're trying to introduce fish to a small child for the first time, this is the dish for you. It doesn't have a strong fish taste, it's delicate yet delicious and the light batter gives extra flavour that children often enjoy. If the fish has been prepared correctly there will be no bones to worry about.

We eat quite a bit of fish here - both fresh and from a tin, but I have to tell you, this is one of my favourites. If you can get some whiting, please try it. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.


  1. Hello Rhonda,
    You have made me hungry :)
    How is you dear friend? I hope your feeling over the flu as well. I have planted half the garden and am setting up a gazebo. Very hot here in the low 100's.
    Enjoy the cool :)

  2. Good Morning Rhonda-Jean!
    Thank you for the tempura batter. We haven't had fresh fish in such a long time. Surprisingly, (for a coastal country), fish tends to be quite pricey here, but that recipe sounds and looks so appetizing, I'm going to put it on the menu this week.
    I have been meaning to write and tell you that a neighbour invited me to a tupperware party last week. I didn't really want to go because I know how expensive tupperware can be, but at the same time I wanted to be neighbourly and support her. I knew I would be tempted by all the wonderful things they offer. As I went out the door that night my husband said to me (half in fun, half serious), "when you feel tempted to buy up big, just ask yourself what Rhonda would say." I did have to laugh! You are becoming legendary around here! As a result I was very sensible and came away with a few practical items I needed without breaking the bank!
    We've been very busy around here just lately, and I haven't had much time to comment, but I do love to come here in the morning.
    Have a good day.
    Rachel L from NZ

  3. Thanks for the tips on the delicate flavour of this fish Rhonda. We are getting signs of spring down here our bear plum definitely showing a blush of pink I'm looking forward to seeing what I can get from my small garden this year.

  4. Are you going to have another try at Aquaponics? The fish looks great!

  5. Hello everyone!

    Rachel, I've never been to a Tupperware party. LOL! I'm pleased you didn't buy too much but I have to say, if you're going to spend, food storage containers is a good way to do it. I hope little Alice is thriving.

    Inoureyes, we sold our aquaponics system and it's all behind us now. It's a great way to raise fish though and if we were younger, we probably would have persevered with it until be worked it out.

  6. It would be so nice to be able to garden all year long! I live in the US in Northern California. It does freeze but never below +15.

    I want to tell you how much I enjoy your blog.

  7. Okay, you keep teasing me with your buns/rolls. Want the recipe for the ones you have pictured in today's post. They look yummy. I have really gotten into making fresh bread and love it.

    Thanks for telling me about your weather. It sounds nice, but also like it can be bad sometimes. One of the nice things about Colorado is that we don't have humidity or at least very little of it. We are considered arid, but do have some cold winters with snow.

    Thanks for the tempura batter. I will try it on my zucchini. I haven't fried any yet this summer, but my husband loves it that way and your recipe sounds like a good one to use as the batter.

    Have a good day.


  8. Hello Rhonda

    In South Australia we enjoy King George Whiting - delicious! I add some lemon pepper seasoning to plain flour, dust the fish with this and fry in a little oil and butter. Just as it is ready to serve, I give it a small squeeze of lemon juice. Like you, a nice potato salad and green tossed salad complete the meal.

    Cheers - Joolz

  9. I agree with you Rhonda, Whitting is a very delicious ;)

    Thank you for sharing your always it is so good, I am looking forward to trying it!

    many blessings,

    lady m

  10. Hi Rhonda, your blog on whiting brought back memories of when Dad used to take my brother and I down to the beach where it was rocky and we would fish for flathead and whiting. Whiting was always my favourite to eat though! Yummmmmm I wonder if I can find it at the Queen Vic Market? Makes me hungry already and it is only 9.30am! Keep up the good work. :-)

  11. Last year I preserved lemons for the first time and I have to say the difference they made to the flavour of the fish was something else. They were fantastic with chicken too. It is well worth the effort if you have an excess of lemons and you cook with fish a lot. I used Donna Hay's recipe for preserved lemons and it worked really well.

  12. Sounds delish! We aren't near the sea but are thankful that modernity has given us some fish and are really thankful when we can get never-frozen kinds. Love it. Had salmon tonight! Thanks. C

  13. It looks delicious...although, anything in tempura HAS to be good!

  14. Those bread rolls look SO good. I am bread making in a moment so may do rolls rather than a loaf for a change. I wish I'd had breakfast BEFORE reading your blog!

    Fish is expensive here in the UK, and unless you can get it from a good fishmonger, preferably at the seaside itself, then it is nearly always frozen and pretty tasteless too. Your little whiting fillets look so good.

    I couldn't live in Darwin that's for sure - too hot and humid.

  15. This one of my favourite fish too but due to health issues I have mine steamed with herbs.

    I have just finished my Aussie dinner and reading your blog with the pictures of healthy salad and bread has made me hungry. Thank you for sharing.

  16. It all looks most delicious and thanks for sharing your recipe. I was wondering if you included that potato salad (or at least that is what it appears to be) recipe any where on your blog? I kind of collect potato salad recipes!! Pretty hard to ruin potatoes, most anyway you cook them!!

  17. We have a fish similar to your whiting as you described it. We call it Pollack, very light tasting. I LOVE it and sooo yummy. Thanks for the batter recipe and have a great day! :)

  18. We love mild tasting fish as well..I like your tempura batter recipe, delicious! Thank you.
    The weather sure has warmed up it's supposed to go to +35C, that's more than warm, that's hot!

  19. Ooh yes, whiting (I think there are several species) is lovely, as is flathead. But then I've never met a fish I didn't like! I'd like to add a couple of points: well-known species tend to be more highly priced, simply because people recognise the names. Cheap fish are usually underrated rather than low quality -- for example, leatherjacket is delicious, and usually cheap. Exceptions to this are flake (shark) and anything that has been frozen and imported.
    Your fishmonger should be able to tell you how to cook their fishes. Mine will also gut and scale whole fish for free, and it's much cheaper to buy whole rather than filleted fish (I have a filleting knife to do it myself). My favourite method is to dredge fillets in flour and fry them in a small amount of oil, but oven-baked whole fish is also delicious. The Sydney Fish Market website has some information on how to cook fish IIRC.

  20. that bread looks delicious!
    (but i can't eat it,-LCHF you know ;-)
    /Best regards from sweden

  21. We love fish, but I am not very familiar with cooking it from scratch - so thanks for the batter recipe and instructions. If you feel like sharing any of your other fish recipes sometime it would be very much appreciated! I love checking in on your blog each day - thank you so much!

  22. I actually never heard of this sort of fish - with the exception of your blog of course. Up here in Minnesota we eat alot of Sunfish/Crappies, Suckerfish and Walleyes. When the fish aren't biting we eat Tilapia.

    We LOVE fish in our house!

  23. Yum! WE love fish too. My eldest was born in Townsville, quite a way further north as you know, Rhonda. My hubby fished all the time up there and we joke to our son that his first solid food was barramundi!
    A quick note- some cornflours are made from wheat so make sure you buy a corn one if gluten intolerant.(Kream Cornflour in the red box is wheat/ White Wings in the yellow box is corn.)

  24. I've had to ask my family not to be included in Tupperware party invites, it's so easy to be suckered in to buy things.

    Rhonda has your weather been as strange as ours? We were forcast as expecting a 29 degree day today. It's not that hot, a fresh breeze is keeping it cooler, I thought it was supposed to still be winter.

    Thank you for the Tempura recipe, I've been meaning to find one.



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