Whiting winner
  |  First Published: March 2015

Butterfly filleting

This article shows the butterfly filleting technique for small to mid-size whiting, in this case without the tailfin. By omitting the tailfin it will present on the plate similar to a bream fillet (or hussar fillet).

For really small whiting (winter whiting), the tail is often left connected to the fillets. It is usually used for finger food with the small fillet being picked up by the tail.



Scale the whiting thoroughly.


Make a shallow cut along the top of the fillet for the full length of the backbone from the head to the tail. Continue all the way along to the tail with the shallow incision.


Cut behind the pectoral fin, through to the spine. Continue this cut around and across the ‘belly’ and behind the ventral fins


Turn the fillet over and execute a similar cut along the spine adjacent to the dorsal fins as before.


Once you get down past the ribs, push (poke) the knife point all the way through and out the other side of the tail section of the fillet; and then cut the end of the fillet away from the fish’s backbone and tail. Repeat on the other side.


Peel the fillet back and shave, stroke-by-stroke with the knife point, the fillet away from the rib cage. Once you get down past the ribs push (poke) the knife point all the way through and out the other side. Fillet the end of the fillet away from the fish’s backbone and tail. Repeat the other side.


Turn the fillet over (again), and carefully shave the flesh away from across the top of the bones of the rib cage as before. When you get to the end of the rib bones you can stop the shaving process.


By cutting towards the head, separate the butterfly fillet from the frame by holding the fillet down with the flat of your knife as you lift the middle of the frame with your spare hand. Trim out the anal fins if necessary. You now have a butterflied whiting fillet.

Asian style BUTTERFLied Whiting

6 butterflied whiting fillets

3 finely chopped lemongrass stalks

3 finely chopped green shallots (green part only),

1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

2 tsp Squid brand fish sauce

1 tbsp Lee Kum Kee soy sauce

2 tbsp butter

Lime cheeks, for garnish



Chop the lemongrass, green shallots and coriander. Add the fish sauce and soy sauce and mix well.


Using your fingertips, apply some of the herb mixture to one side only of the butterflied whiting fillets. Don’t overload the fillets.


Melt the butter in the pan. When hot, add the fillets herb-side up and cook for approximately a minute. Then carefully flip them over. Only cook them in small batches of a couple at a time. Whiting is a very delicate fleshed fish.


Serve the butterflied whiting fillets as a stack and squeeze the lime juice to taste.

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