King George Whiting In An Olive Oil Sauce

The only thing that keeps me from buying King George whiting every time I visit the fishmonger is the high price. They really do shine. They’re so beautifully designed. Delicious to look at, delicious to eat. I just wish I could catch one.

Because of its regularly high price, King George whiting makes its way into our canny house only rarely, usually after a good day at the TAB. The best way to cook it is whole, which means you peel the flesh away as you eat it. Means the flavour add-ons come from the cooking process. I like to cook these fish in wraps. They make a great show at a barbecue. Just throw them on the fire, wrapped in foil, count, unwrap, and eat. You can do this with fillets as well – just be careful to remove all the bones beforehand, with eyebrow tweezers. The beauty of this method is that you can do all the work in the morning, and you can cook half a dozen at once,
and know they’ll all be perfect when disrobed. Obviously, the method applies to any fish.

1 whole medium-sized King George whiting, gutted

handful of chopped tarragon, parsley and chives – This mix provides a wonderful collection of flavours that enhance each other, without fighting. If you want to go with one, go with tarragon.

¼ cup virgin olive oil or 50 g butter, cut into cubes

juice of 1 lemon


black pepper


Place the fish on a large piece of aluminium foil, large enough to enclose the fish entirely, without stretching.


Sprinkle the herbs all about, douse with a really good pour of the olive oil (or dot with the butter) and squeeze the lemon juice all over. Season freely with the salt and black pepper. Wrap the foil over to enclose the fish.


Heat the oven to 250°C, and bake the fish for 15 minutes. It is sensible to check the progress after about 12 minutes. There is nothing so forlorn as an overcooked whiting. (Fillets will take only about 5 minutes. Check their progress after 3 minutes.)


Serve the fish whole, with the oil and herbs as the sauce, and be careful of the bones.

WINE: King George whiting and good riesling produced in the Clare Valley of South Australia have a lot in common – they are both elegant, with good structure and length of flavour. They also go beautifully together.