School Whiting

Sillago flindersi (Eastern School Whiting)
Sillago bassensis (Southern School Whiting)
Sillago robusta (Stout Whiting)

School Whiting
Species

Whitings

Description

School Whiting is the marketing name for 3 regional species distinguished by a silvery white stripe along the middle of their sides. Available wild-caught, they are marine fish found from Bowen (Queensland) south to Shark Bay (WA), including Tasmania, schooling close to sandy bottoms, usually from 0-70m, with juveniles in estuaries or close to the coast.

Eastern (distinguished by a row of rusty brown spots on the upper side) occurs from Noosa (Queensland) south to Port Lincoln (SA).

Southern occurs from Western Port (Victoria) along the southern coast to Geraldton (WA). Stout (distinguished by a yellow blotch between the eye and pectoral fin) occurs on the western coast from Fremantle to at least Shark Bay, and on the eastern coast from Bowen (Queensland) to Newcastle (NSW), and in NT.

School Whiting are mainly caught in eastern Bass Strait by Danish seines, as well as with otter trawls off Queensland, NSW and WA and, in smaller quantities, off Victoria and Tasmania. A lot of the catch is frozen whole and exported. They are endemic to Australia.

Other Names

Silver Whiting, School Whiting, Bass Whiting (Western School); Redspot Whiting, Silver Whiting, Trawl Whiting.

Family

Sillaginidae (Whitings).

Season

Available year round.

Size and Weight

Commonly to 200g and 28cm, but can grow to 600g and 40cm, with Western being the largest and Eastern (rarely over 25cm), the smallest.

Price

Low-medium priced.

Relations

Western School Whiting (Sillago vittata, a fourth School Whiting, found off the central to southern WA coast and of little commercial value), King George Whiting, Sand Whiting, Trumpeter Whiting, Yellowfin Whiting and the other 20 or so species of Whiting (Sillaginidae) distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

Blue Weed Whiting (Haletta semifasciata) is a Wrasse, not a Whiting.

In the Northern Hemisphere the name ‘Whiting’ is also applied to various unrelated species, including Pacific Hake (Merluccius productus) and English Whiting (Merlangius merlangus).

To Buy

Sold whole (gilled and gutted), as trunks (headless), and in single and butterflied fillets. In whole fish look for lustrous skin, firm flesh, and a pleasant, fresh sea smell.

In fillets, look for white, firm, lustrous, moist flesh without any brown markings or oozing water and with a pleasant fresh sea smell.

To Store

Make sure whole fish is scaled, gilled, gutted and cleaned thoroughly. Wrap whole fish and fillets in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze whole fish for up to 6 months, and fillets for up to 3 months, below -18ºC.

To Cook

Average yield is 30%. Has a delicate, sweet flavour, low oiliness and moist, medium-textured, flaky flesh with fine bones, which are easily removed. The edible skin can be left on and the bones make excellent stock.

Cooking Methods

Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry, bake, braise, grill, barbecue, raw (sashimi). Thin fillets are best wrapped in foil or banana leaves to protect them when barbecuing or grilling. Flesh has good gelling characteristics and works well in mousseline.

Goes Well With

Almonds, asparagus, beer-batter, butter, capers, citrus, eggs, garlic, herbs (chervil, chives, dill, parsley, French tarragon), wine, verjuice.

Alternatives

Dory, Flathead, Flounder, Garfish, other Whiting.

Imports

None. Southern Blue Whiting, imported from New Zealand, and North Sea Whiting, imported from Europe, are not related to Whiting of the Sillaginidae family.

Recipes

Steamed School Whiting with Asparagus & Sauce Gribiche
Pan-Fried King George Whiting Fillets with Mushrooms & Asparagus
Crumbed Pan-Fried King George Whiting with Baked Chips
Whiting Quenelles with Sorrel Sauce  
Bouillabaisse

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