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Fairway Market in Paramus has been advertising fresh whiting and porgy for only $2.99 a pound. But today, I found a special at H Mart, the Korean supermarket in Little Ferry: a pile of king whiting on ice at $1.79 a pound.
I bought four -- each about eight or nine inches long -- and had them cleaned with the head and tail on. Whiting is a wonderful, wild-caught fish that is on the menu of many soul food restaurants, where fillets are fried. It is also appreciated by Koreans, who, in flush times, used to receive small whiting among the free side dishes that accompany every meal.
My wife likes to bread them and fry them whole. The pearly, white flesh breaks away from the bone easily. But we also eat the skin and tail.
Before I selected the fish, I stopped at H Mart's Green Room, where a wide variety of Korean, Chinese and other greens chill on ice. I took advantage of another special: baby mustard greens at 69 cents a pound. I'll blanch the leaves and thick stems quickly in boiling water, then steam them with oil, soy sauce and fish sauce.
Friday is the start of free-sample weekend at H Mart. I tried a spicy soup with thick noodles and fresh watermelon, but passed on the pork-and-vegetable dumplings.