This week the local boats are landing large quantities of red mullet and we can offer a fantastic price of £1.80 for a butterflied fish. Historically they have always been in huge demand especially by the Romans and at one stage were worth their weight in pure sliver. Nowadays red mullet are mainly consumed by the French which is why you don’t see them much in the UK, but they are caught in our waters regularly.
Red mullet have an intense, rich flavour that comes from their crustacean diets of crabs, shrimps and small fish that is also reflected in their colouring – red/pink with lines of yellow. Despite the name, they are not closely related to the grey mullet but are in fact a type of goat fish – distinguished by their two chin barbels that help find prey beneath the sand.
The flavour of the red mullet is strong enough to mix with many other flavours – and herbs such as rosemary, thyme or fennel will go well.
Spaghetti with Red Mullet and Tomato – Serves 4
- 200g spaghetti
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 chopped garlic clove
- 6 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded, chopped finely
- Pinch of saffron
- Splash of white wine
- 6 butterflied red mullet
- bunch of parsley, finely chopped
- 1 small dried chilli
- Squeeze of lemon
While the spaghetti cooks, heat olive oil in a large frying pan (that can take the spaghetti as well) add the garlic and fry gently. Add the tomatoes, saffron, wine and red mullet and stir together. Cook until the fish is cooked and the tomatoes broken down, then season, add the crumbled chilli and lemon juice to taste. Add two tablespoons of pasta water and stir in, then add the drained pasta, mix and serve with the parsley.