Whiting, Sicilian-style

Whiting, Sicilian-style

The sweet-sour nature of this beautiful dish comes from the two-century Moorish occupation of Sicily. Lots of Sicilian cooking involves fruit, and couscous is used often. Serve any of the delicious leftover sauce with pan-fried chicken, duck or lamb. It is not always necessary to pin-bone fish before cooking, but it does make for easier eating. Simply take a pair of fish tweezers (available from kitchenware shops), feel for the


  • 8 large fillets, pin-boned
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • Sea salt
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 50 g (13/4 oz/1/3 cup) pine nuts, roasted
  • 50 g (13/4 oz/1/3 cup) currants or raisins
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 handful dill, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bunch chives, about 15 g (1/2 oz), roughly chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper


Heat a little oil in a large pan. Place the fish in the pan, skin side down. Cook for about 1 minute, then gently turn over and cook for about 30 seconds on the other side. You will need to cook the fish in two or three batches.

Remove the fillets and place on a baking tray, keeping them warm in the oven while you cook the others. Be careful not to overcook the fish as it has a very delicate flesh.

Heat a little more oil in a separate pan and add the onion and some sea salt. Cook until softened. Add the celery, a dash more oil, the pine nuts and the currants or raisins, then the honey, red wine vinegar, dill and chives. Grind on some fresh pepper.

You should have a sweet-sour tasting vinaigrette. Place two fish fillets on each plate and spoon a generous amount of the sauce over the top. Alternatively, serve this dish banquet-style, on a large platter with couscous on the side.

NOTES: First published in Neil’s cookbook Good Food. Photography by Earl Carter.

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  • Serves 4
  • 60 minutes