Also known as:

White fish, demersal fish, Mountain whitefish, common whitefish, Sault whitefish, eastern whitefish, Great Lakes whitefish, inland whitefish, and gizzard fish. Whitefish is a fisheries term referring to several species of oceanic deep water finfish, particularly cod, whiting, and haddock, but also hake, pollock or others.


A high-fat, mild-flavored member of the salmon family with a firm white flesh.

The lake whitefish are cool water species, and are regarded as a "schooling" fish.

Whitefish spawn in the fall, usually in November and December, but these dates can vary. Spawning usually occurs in shallow water at depths of less than 7 or 8 metres (25 feet), often over a hard or stony bottom, but sometimes over sand. The number of eggs varies and tends to increase with size of the female. Counts have shown 8,000-16,000 eggs. The eggs measure approximately 2.3 mm in diameter, increasing to 3.0-3.2 mm after 24 hours in the water. Eggs are deposited randomly in the spawning area.

The eggs remain in the spawning ground until April or May. Normal development takes place when temperatures reach of 0.5-6.1°C (33-43°F).

Young whitefish generally leave the shallows by early summer and move into deeper waters. The growth of lake whitefish varies from lake to lake, but in general is relatively rapid. Males mature at a younger age than females and die earlier and there are populations of "dwarf" whitefish.

The adults are bottom feeders, eating a wide variety of invertebrates and small fishes their food varies from region to region but aquatic insect larvae, mollusks and amphipods are their primary foods. Small whitefishes fall prey to a number of predatory fishes.

Best Cooking:

The whitefish can be poached, baked, broiled, grilled, pan fried, or stuffed. Its roe (eggs) can be cooked or made into caviar by adding salt.

Buying Tips:

Quality whitefish is easy to recognize. Fresh whitefish never smells fishy it smells fresh like the ocean. The eyes should appear bright and clear, almost alive. The gills should be reddish, and the skin moist and with tightly adhering, shiny scales. Fresh whitefish flesh will give slightly when you press it with a finger, then spring back into shape. When choosing whitefish steaks or fillets, whether they’re fresh or previously frozen, look for moist, translucent (never dried out) flesh. Keep whitefish cool on the trip from the market to your house. Never let it stay unrefrigerated for long.

To store whitefish, remove packaging, rinse fish under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Fish deteriorates when it sits in its own juices, so place it on a cake rack in a shallow pan filled with crushed ice. Cover with cling wrap or foil and set in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Whitefish will store well this way for up to two days.

When well-wrapped, whitefish can be frozen for up to two months in a refrigerator freezer compartment and three to four months in a deep-freeze. Use lined freezer paper and wrap fish tightly from head to tail with at least two layers of paper. To thaw slowly, unwrap, place in a pan, cover, and leave for 24 hours in the refrigerator. To thaw more quickly, place the whole fish (in a watertight plastic bag) in a sink with cool running water, allowing about 1/2 hour per pound (454g). For fastest thawing, use the defrost cycle of your microwave, allowing 2 to 5 minutes per pound (454g), with equal standing time in between zaps.

Nutrition Value:

Whitefish, 1 fillet (5.4 oz.) (153g) (cooked, dry heat)
Calories: 265
Protein: 37.6g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 11.5g
Fiber: 0.0g
Excellent source* of: Selenium (24.9), and Niacin (5.9mg)
Good source* of: Magnesium (64.7mg), and Zinc (1.9mg)

When cooked (dry heat), whitefish (mixed species) provides 1.847 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, derived from EPA** (0.406g), DHA*** (1.206g), and ALA**** (0.235g), per 100 grams of whitefish (mixed species).

*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.
**EPA - Eicosapentaenoic Acid
***DHA - Docosahexaenoic Acid
****ALA - Alpha Lipoic Acid

Substitutes for Whitefish:

Trout, salmon, char, and grayling.

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