Published on October 10 2019.
Found in coastal waters of eastern Australia, sand whiting (Sillago ciliata) is a cousin to the prized King George whiting. Though smaller than the King George (and not a member of the royal family), it’s an attractive silver-coloured fish and makes for fine eating.
Small coastal fishing boats based in the Gippsland port of Lakes Entrance (at the eastern end of 90 Mile Beach) catch sand whiting in Danish seine nets.
The Lakes Entrance Fishermen’s Co-op involves about 20 local and multi-generational fishing families, all partners in the small processing facility on Bullock Island, Lakes Entrance.
Why it’s different
Sand whiting are caught all along the Australian coast, but the population living in the cooler waters off Victoria have firmer, sweeter flesh and a higher fat content than their northern relatives. Sand whiting are exceptional value for money, and when it comes to sustainability the fish is deemed a “better choice” by the Australian Marine Conservation Society’s Sustainable Seafood Guide.
Who’s a fan?
MoVida’s Frank Camorra is well-versed in sand whiting’s charms and has been serving the fish at MoVida Next Door for years, dusting them in seasoned semolina, deep-frying them and serving them whole on the bone.
“It has such soft, sweet flesh and is absolutely delicious,” he says.
Rosa Mitchell from Rosa’s Canteen cooks her sand whiting quickly in oil with fresh oregano, meanwhile, and serves it with a drizzle of oil and some capers.
“I love its sweetness,” she says.
Direct from the fishermen at Off The Wharf, 51 Bullock Island Rd, Lakes Entrance. You can also find it at fishmongers such as The Fish Shoppe, South Melbourne Market; Veg Out St Kilda Farmers Market; Collingwood Children’s Farm Farmers Market; and Gasworks Farmers Market. For food service, try PFD Foodservices, pfdfoods.com.au
By Richard Cornish
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