Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Pan Fried Red Mullet with Butter and Bay

A couple of weeks ago I drove South over the river to meet Ailsa and Rob Latimer of Latimer's fish shop in Whitburn. We sat in their lovely cafĂ© over looking the sea and chatted markets and food events. I tried my best to talk while eating a giant crab sandwich and eyeing the huge fish counter. Their range of fish is amazing, beautifully fresh fish caught that morning, every shellfish I can think of and others I don't know yet, hot smoked salmon that they smoke themselves, dressed crab, huge prawns... I came home with a bag of little squid, hot smoked salmon, some really fresh langoustine, some little red mullet and a John Dory... not the prettiest of fellas, but a very tasty one...



I haven’t eaten red mullet that often I don't think, but these were my favourite of all the guys I brought home. So fresh and red and pretty. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall refers to them as the woodcock of the sea owing to the French way of eating them whole with the guts still inside, the flesh has a light almost gamey flavour to it. They are good in terms of sustainability too, they grow quickly and mature young in UK waters and are not overfished here like they are in the Mediterranean.



The red mullet were simply pan fried in some melted butter with a bay leaf and some sliced garlic inside the fish, 7 minutes on each side. The flavour that comes out of them is amazing, the butter turns a deep orangey red and they have a spice and flavour to them as if you've added paprika, totally delicious. The little John Dory was baked in the oven for 20 minutes wrapped in foil with some butter garlic and parsley, simple but again delicious.


I'm so often cooking new recipes and experimenting with things that I forget sometimes how delicious a piece of fish can be with just a salad and some bread or new potatoes, this was such a feast, for barely any effort. My usual go to when I want something quick and simple is something on toast, eggs, lemony courgettes, broad beans and bacon or a simple cheese omelette; but really a piece of grilled fish and salad is as easy as it gets and so tasty. We are very lucky to have such a wealth of fresh fish right on our doorstep.


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