Red Mullet with Herbs


serves 4
4 red mullet, trimmed and cleaned
1/2 stick (2 oz) 50 g butter
60 ml/4 tbsp oil
4 tbsp (60 ml) red wine vinegar
2 shallots, finely chopped
6 peppercorns
15 ml/1 tbsp chopped gherkin
1 tbsp (15 ml) shredded fresh basil

for the mustard sauce

2 tbsp (1 oz) 25 g butter
3 tbsp (25 g) plain flour
2/3 cup (150 ml) 1/4 pt milk
2/3 cup (5 fl oz.) 160 ml Basic Fish Stock
2 egg yolks
10 ml/2 tsp French mustard
few drops of lemon juice
salt and pepper


1. Make the sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes, without allowing the mixture to colour. Gradually add the liquid, stirring constantly. Raise the heat to moderate, stirring the mixture until it boils and thickens. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

2. Beat the egg yolks and mustard in a small bowl. Add a little of the sauce and mix well. Add the contents of the bowl to the sauce and heat gently, stirring. Do not allow the sauce to boil. Stir in the lemon juice, with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the surface of the sauce closely with damp greaseproof paper and set aside until required.

3. Make 3 diagonal slashes in the flesh on both sides of each fish. Cut four squares of foil, each large enough to enclose one fish, and butter them generously.

4. Make a marinade by combining the oil,

5. vinegar, shallots, peppercorns and herbs in a shallow dish large enough to hold all the mullet in a single layer. Add the fish, turning to coat them evenly in the marinade. Cover the dish and marinate the fish for 2 hours, basting frequently.

6. Drain the fish, discarding the marinade, and pack each in foil, wrapping each square around the fish to make a loose parcel. Grill the packages under high heat for 10-15 minutes.

7. Reheat the sauce gently. When all the fish are cooked (see Mrs Beeton's Tip), remove the foil and place them on a heated dish. Serve at once, with the sauce.

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