This easy fried fish recipe uses hake or whiting, which can usually be found in abundance in Morocco. I find hake be a perfect fish for frying. Not only does it have great mild flavor and texture, but the bones are easy to remove after cooking, making it less tedious to eat than other fish.
In Morocco, hake is referred to as merna, cola or merluzza. Smaller whiting tend to be more tasty than larger ones. Try to select fish that are 7" or less in length. The ones pictured here were about 5" long after cleaning.
Have your fishmonger remove the heads and clean the cavities. Fish is best fried the same day as purchased, but if properly washed and drained, it will keep nicely until the next day. See the directions below.
The whiting can be seasoned with Moroccan Fish Spice or simply salt and pepper before frying. Serve it alone or as part of a Moroccan Fried Fish Dinner.
Also try a popular variation, Fried Whiting Stuffed with Chermoula.
- 1 kg (2 lbs. 3 oz.) fresh whiting, heads removed and stomach cavities cleaned
- Moroccan Fish Spice Blend (optional)
- 1/2 cup flour (or a little more) for coating the fish
- vegetable oil for frying
- lemon wedges (optional)
1. Wash each fish, checking to be sure the stomach cavities are clean, and leave to drain thoroughly.
2. Sprinkle the fish with about 2 teaspoons of the Moroccan Fish Spice, and a little bit of salt if desired. (I usually don't bother salting the whiting.) Or, season the fish to taste with a light sprinkling of pepper and salt.
3. The fish can be prepped up to this point and then refrigerated for up to a day. Place the seasoned whiting in a colander set in a deep bowl and cover tightly; leave in the fridge until ready to cook.
4. When ready to fry, place the flour on a plate or shallow dish. Lightly coat the fish with the flour, shaking off the excess, and set aside in a single layer on a tray.
5. Pour enough vegetable oil into a frying pan to fully coat the bottom, and heat for two or three minutes over medium heat.
6. Cook the fish in batches, turning only once, until light to medium golden on both sides. Do not crowd the pan and add a little more oil if needed. For very small whiting, the frying will only be several minutes on each side. For larger whiting, you might find it takes up to 7 to 8 minutes on each side.
7. Transfer the fish to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, and then to a serving platter. Serve room temperature or warm, with lemon wedges on the side if desired.
8. Leftover fried fish can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated the next day. Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet, and place in a preheated 350° F (180° C) for about 10 minutes.