I remember when I was quite a small child my grandfather had a shack on Bribie Island. Just before dusk, he would take his rod and walk down to the beach. We kids would play in the shallows and barely have time to make a sandcastle before it was time to head back with a bucket full of whiting fillets. My grandmother would have the batter made and the frypan ready, with never a thought of the possibility that he may not have caught fish.
We all want our children to live better, healthier, wealthier lives than we do. Yet experiences like this are true wealth and why it is so important to think about the sustainability of the seafood we eat. Whiting are still listed as sustainable, despite the fact that you can’t catch them like that any more. Australian Marine Conservation Society says they are “heavily fished across much of the range but a robust, fast-growing group of species showing stable landings”.
Whiting are low fat, delicate fish easily overcooked. I reckon my grandmother had (nearly) the perfect method. I’m on a semolina roll lately, so I have used semolina rather than flour in the batter, but you could substitute wholemeal self-raising flour. And I have added some herbs to the batter – not too many – you don’t want to overwhelm the flavour.
We ate this platter of fillets in our fingers, with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of salt, cherry tomatoes on the side, and a cold beer.
For 500 grams of whiting fillets, I beat together:
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup semolina
- a tablespoon of finely chopped fresh herbs (dill, parsley, chives, lemon thyme)
- enough water to make a batter
Tip all the fillets into the batter bowl and use your hand to mix through, coating each fillet more or less in batter.
Heat a centimetre of olive oil in a pan and fry the fillets quickly till golden. Drain on brown paper. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice and eat fresh and hot.