The objective of this study was to test the effects of salt-dried whiting (Merlangius merlangus) fillet storage when treated with a special paste and stored covered. For this purpose whiting fillets were salt-dried at 4-6 degrees C for 15 days. A subsequent test series involved a paste mixture prepared from ground fenugreek, cumin seeds, black pepper, red pepper powder and garlic. The fillets were coated with this paste and air-dried (15-20 degrees C) for 5 days. All microbiological changes during this drying period were noted. The aerobic mesophilic bacterial counts decreased significantly (P < 0.05) from 5.08 +/- 0.20 log cfu g(-1) to 3.24 +/- 0.06 log cfu g(-1) after 15 days of salt-drying. After then covering with paste and drying for 5 days (at 15-20 degrees C), the aerobic mesophilic and lactic acid bacteria counts of the fillets increased to 6.05 +/- 0.45 and 5.85 +/- 0.06 log cfu g(-1), respectively. The pH values of dried whiting fillets changed after 15 days of dry salting (from 6.1 to 6.4), but after coating and drying with the paste, the pH values were 5.6 on day 5. Enterobactericeae were few in number at the start of salt-drying (about 1.20 +/- 0.15 log cfu g(-1)), but their number decreased to <1.0 log cfu g(-1) after 15 days of dry-salt storage. Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, mould and yeast were not detected at any time of drying. According to the resuts of the microbiological analyses, dried whiting fillet are considered safe for human consumption.