Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

whiting a name for fish, the meaning of which varies from the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific.

  1. What might be termed the ‘original whiting’, the first fish to bear the name, is Merlangius merlangus, a fish of the cod family which has a range from the N. Atlantic through the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. Maximum length 70 cm (30"), market length about half of that. These are fish of variable coloration; the back may be brownish, bluish, or greenish. The flesh is easy to digest but lacking in flavour. It is considered to be very suitable for invalids, especially when steamed or poached. The so-called ‘blue whiting’, Micromesistius poutassou, may be regarded as a deep-water version of the whiting; hence perhaps the fetching Greek name prosphygáki (little exile or refugee). It is poutassou in French, blauer Wittling in German, bacaladilla in Spanish, and pichelim in Portuguese. If landed very fresh, it may be cooked like whiting; but most of the catch is turned into fish meal.

  2. Whiting is also the common English name applied to various species of fish in the Indo-Pacific, notably in Indian and Australian waters, although none of these fish is related to the whiting of the N. Atlantic.