Chefs' Recipes

Cutler & Co's King George whiting with brown butter, pickled onion and dill

Andrew McConnell's all-time favourite fish, pan-fried with a classic combo of butter and onions.

By Andrew McConnell
  • 45 mins preparation
  • 30 mins cooking (plus pickling, cooling)
  • Serves 6
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"King George whiting is one of my all-time favourite local fish," Cutler & Co's Andrew McConnell. "This is a classic combination that I don't ever tire of." Start this recipe a day ahead to pickle the onions.


  • 6 King George whiting fillets (100gm each)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup watercress sprigs, to serve
  • 1 lemon, segmented and segments cut into 5mm pieces
Sweet-and-sour pickled onion
  • 3 small pickling onions, halved, with root intact
  • 1½ tbsp malt vinegar
  • 30 gm caster sugar
Pickled cucumber
  • 125 ml (½ cup) white wine vinegar
  • 75 gm caster sugar
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, peeled, halved, seeds removed and cut into 2cm pieces
Brown-butter sauce
  • 150 gm unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tsp lemon juice, plus extra to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup (medium packed) dill fronds


  • 1
    For pickled onion, combine onion, vinegar, sugar and 1½ tbsp water in a saucepan, cover, and cook over very
    low heat, turning halfway, until onion has softened slightly (20 minutes). Refrigerate overnight to pickle.
  • 2
    For pickled cucumber, bring vinegar, sugar and 375ml water to the boil in a medium saucepan, then remove from heat. Place cucumber in a container, pour liquid over, and refrigerate to pickle (at least 1 hour, or overnight).
  • 3
    For brown-butter sauce, cook butter in a saucepan over medium heat until foaming and nut-brown (4-6 minutes). Add lemon juice, swirl to combine, transfer to a bowl, and keep at room temperature. Meanwhile, boil eggs in a small saucepan of water until very soft-boiled (5 minutes). Refresh in iced water, then peel. Blend eggs in a tall jug with a hand-held blender, then slowly add warm brown butter, blending to emulsify (if mixture splits, add 1 tbsp warm water, or more as necessary, to bring it back). Blend in dill and season to taste with lemon juice and salt.
  • 4
    Separate layers of pickled onion and place cut-side down in a hot, dry frying pan over medium-high heat until edges are caramelised (1-2 minutes).
  • 5
    Meanwhile, season flesh side of whiting with salt. Add oil to a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat, then add fish, skin-side down, and fry until sides are opaque and white (1½-2 minutes). Remove pan from heat, leaving fish in pan.
  • 6
    Spoon butter sauce onto plates. Drain cucumber and place on top of sauce with onion petals and watercress. Flip the fish in the pan (still off the heat), just to let the flesh side touch the warm pan, then gently lift fillets onto plates. Top with lemon to serve.


Wine suggestion The key to this dish is the delicate flesh of the whiting. Riesling has the purity to highlight this, and a riesling blend such as 2017 Sinapius Clem Blanc riesling blend, from Pipers Brook, Tasmania offers a dynamic range of scents, flavours and textures. Drink suggestion by Liam O'Brien