Affectionately called 'the woodcock of the sea', red mullet is a fish to be prized. Thank Simon Hopkinson for this marvellous recipe.
Without doubt, red mullet is going to require a good fishmonger. My local fish man, Jerome, isn’t only an expert filleter, but a Frenchman who knows his rougets well indeed. Just to watch him at work by the sinks at The Fishmongers Kitchen is a joy; the speed, the deftness, the smile on him as he works.
It’s no surprise to learn that he had previously worked in the kitchens of some of the finest French fish restaurants in London.
So, you need a Jerome when you search for your red mullets.You want not only the freshest fish (sporting a bright, almost crimson skin), but also a monger who will both scale and gut the critter, saving for you the livers, should you wish you use them, from the messy bits. Look after him, if you find such a gem.
2 scaled and filleted red mullet
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(as fresh as possible)
A scant teaspoon fine sea salt
For the vinaigrette
2 trimmed spring onions, very finely chopped
2 – 3 sprigs tarragon, leaves finely chopped
3 – 4 sprigs dill, tendrils finely chopped
1 tspn smooth Dijon mustard
3 tspn pastis (Ricard is best)
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 tspn light soy sauce
4– 5 tbspn best olive oil
On a plate, evenly sprinkle the salt over the flesh side of the mullet fillets and place them into the freezer for 20 minutes.
Put all the ingredients for the vinaigrette, apart from the olive oil, into a small bowl. Stir together and leave to macerate for 20 minutes.
Remove the fish from the freezer, rinse it in cold water and pat it dry. Slice the fillets as thinly as you can with a diagonal cutting motion (think sliced gravadlax) and lay them neatly on
a handsome platter, so that they are slightly overlapping.
Whisk the olive oil into the macerated ingredients until they’re loosely mingled and the taste seems correct—a little sharp, but definitely oily and fragrant.
Spoon the vinaigrette over the mullet and leave it for 10 minutes before eating.
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