Pan-Fried Whiting with Mussels, Cider, Potatoes

Pan-Fried Whiting with Mussels, Cider, Potatoes

Somewhat unfairly, Whiting is less popular than many of its cousins in the Cod family. With delicious firm flesh and a mild, sweet flavour, it’s a great option for any recipe requiring white fish – we urge you to give it a try! Serves 2.

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320g small Potatoes, scrubbed and halved

For the garlic butter:
Small bunch Flat-Leaf Parsley, washed, leaves chopped
2 cloves Garlic, peeled
½ tsp Lemon zest (from lemon zest used in fish ingredients, below)
100g Unsalted Butter
Sea Salt

For the stock:
Olive Oil
1 small Red Onion, trimmed, peeled and diced finely
1 stick of Celery, scrubbed, trimmed and diced finely (you can use the leaves, if there are any)
1 medium Carrot, scrubbed, trimmed and diced finely
1 Bay Leaf
600g fresh Exmouth Mussels
250ml Dry Cider (we like Four Elms Devon Ridge)
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

For the fish:
Unsalted Butter
2 x 190g Greendale Whiting Fillets (if unavailable try Cod Hake or Pollock)
1 Lemon zested
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper


First, put the potatoes in a large saucepan and place over a medium-high heat. When the pan reaches the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain the cooked potatoes, then put them back in their dry pan to keep warm and set aside. While the potatoes are cooking, take the mussels out of the fridge and rinse them gently, then leave them for a while so that they come up to room temperature. When they have reached room temperature, give any open mussels a light tap – live mussels will close at this point, so discard any that don’t close when you tap them. Set the mussels aside for the moment.

To make the garlic butter, put most of the chopped parsley leaves (reserve some to use as a garnish) into a food processor and crush in the garlic cloves, then blend to combine. Tip in the softened butter, the half-teaspoon of lemon zest and a good pinch of salt, and blend again until you have a well-blended, green-flecked garlic butter. Scrape the butter on to a dish and refrigerate while you make the rest of the recipe.

To make the stock, put a generous drizzle of oil into a large saucepan (one with a lid) and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, lower the heat slightly and add the prepared onion, celery and carrot and the bay leaf. Cook gently, stirring, until the vegetables have softened and the onion is translucent, then season well with salt and pepper, put the mussels into the pan and pour in the cider. Turn the heat back up to medium, then put the lid on the pan and cook for two minutes until all the mussel shells have opened. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool for a couple of minutes, then carefully pour the stock through a sieve into a large jug or bowl. Use a slotted spoon to lift the mussels into a clean dish (throw away any mussels that are still closed), then put a lid or clean tea towel over the dish to keep them warm. Tip the stock back into its cooking pan, then put the lid back on and set aside.

Next, place a frying pan over a medium heat and add a good-sized knob of butter (about a tablespoon). When the butter is melted and foaming, put the two whiting fillets into the pan, skin-side down. Fry for about 8 minutes – the thicker the piece of fish, the longer it will need – then carefully turn the fillets over and cook for 3-4 minutes on the other side, until the flesh is just cooked through. While the fish cooks, put the pan containing the stock back on a medium heat and bring it up to a steady simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until slightly reduced, then dollop the garlic butter into the pan and whisk until it has all melted and been incorporated into the stock. Tip the cooked potatoes into the sauce and stir in the rest of the lemon zest, then add the mussels gently to the pan and lower the heat slightly. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mussels are heated through, and check you are happy with the seasoning – it probably won’t need much salt, but you may wish to add a few turns of the pepper mill. Meanwhile, lift each cooked whiting fillet on to a serving plate. When the sauce is heated through, divided it between the two plates, spooning it over and around the fish. Scatter over the rest of the parsley, then serve.



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