(photo: The Washington Post)
I fry whiting pretty often these days. I was raised on catfish like the best of them. But ever since Babe and I got together, it’s been all about whiting. He didn’t grow up eating much catfish. It must be a Midwest thing. In Chicago, you can walk into practically any supermarket and find catfish steaks. But in more than a decade of living on the East Coast, I have yet to find anything other than a filet anywhere. On the other hand, Babe absolutely loves whiting. Every Friday morning, like clockwork, Babe says, “Wanna go to the farmer’s market?” There’s an amazing seafood stand with all the freshest seafood. That’s one of the best things about living in the ‘burbs on the East Coast. The Seafood. It’s everywhere. And I don’t mind. Babe brings home the prettiest whiting filets you’ve ever seen.
When I was a kid, the Friday Fish Fry was an institution. I looked forward to hearing the sizzling white noise of fresh catfish frying in that cast iron cauldron. And no fish fry would be complete without a side of spaghetti. Yes, you read that right. Fish and spaghetti. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.
As popular as whiting seem to be, it gets no love in the recipe world. I mean, if I were a fried piece of whiting, I would be pretty bitter. Cod and catfish get all the love online. Tilapia too! Go ahead, I dare you to Google “Fried Whiting.” You will hardly find any decent recipes. I managed to find one that looked pretty good. It’s from Chef Michael DuBose from Washington, DC. It’s a good start. However, there are a few things I would change. For starters, I like to use more cornmeal than flour, or a self-rising cornmeal mix that already has flour, cornmeal and baking powder included. Another change would be that I would add salt to the Old Bay. I don’t think Old Bay alone is enough. Here’s my take on his recipe:
- 8-12 skinless whiting fillets
- 2 cups white or yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
- 1 tablespoon granulated onion
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- In a large heavy-bottomed skillet heat oil medium-high heat.
- Pour milk in a shallow dish, add fish.
- Combine the flour, cornmeal, Old Bay, granulated garlic, granulated onion, paprika and black pepper in a large shallow pan.
- Coat each fillet in the cornmeal mixture.
- Add filets to the hot oil, making sure not to crowd the pan.
- Fry for 5 to 7 minutes, turning the fillets over as needed to create a golden crust, until the fish is cooked through and remains firm.
- Remove fish from the oil and drain on paper towels.