Whiting are a fast growing species, reaching 6-7 inches in length at one year old and around 12 inches in their second year, by which time they will also be sexually mature. This high fecundity means that whiting are common and numerous around the British Isles and explains why they are seen as a commercially sustainable species of fish. Whiting form large, loose shoals and hunt for food tending to stay in slightly deeper water during daylight, up to half a mile off shore, but at night they move into shallow water to feed meaning that catches often pick up once the sun has began to set.
COOKING / EATING BENEFITS
A small, silvery fish whiting is a member of the cod family; very similar in flavour but more economical and sustainable to buy than cod. Whilst available all year round whiting come into their own in winter. Its flesh is light, firm, lean, sweet, delicate and low in fat but can turn mushy if cooked too slowly. Buy the freshest possible fish you can find and look for bright, white fillets that are soft but not flabby. Because whiting fillets are small, allow two per serving.
Whiting is best bought fresh and eaten immediately. Whiting is a good fish to use in fishcakes and homemade fish fingers or coated in breadcrumbs or batter and fried. It is also delicious in fish pates and mousses. Like pollock, its taste is sensational if eaten very fresh. The flesh becomes flaky very quickly and this makes it impossible to fillet if it is not fresh. The French use whiting (called merlan) to make mousseline (a sort of fish pâté) or treat it to a number of lovely wine-based or cider-based sauces. You can also mix whiting with other white fish in pies and soups. Whiting is also good grilled, fried in butter or poached in wine.