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  • Writer's pictureLydia Gerratt

Pan fried Red Mullet

Pan fried red mullet

Red mullet has a delicious creamy almost earthy flavour. It is one of my favourite fish. It’s not that easy to find in Britain, the supermarkets don’t sell it, but I have found red mullet in quite a few fishmongers.

The absolute best way to cook this fish is frying. I know you think frying will make the fish greasy, BUT, if you get the temperature right (as in very hot) there is absolutely no oiliness.

The secret to non-greasy fish is dusting them lightly with flour before you start frying. Flour contains big starch molecules that lock together and create a rigid frame around the fish as soon as it hits the hot oil. This means that the outside coating is super crispy and the fish inside gently steams and is not greasy because the rigid flour starch network stops the oil seeping through to the fish.

Miraculous ingredient: red mullet

Pan fried Red Mullet


6 little or 3 big red mullets, scaled and gutted

100g plain flour

Extra virgin olive oil

Coarse sea salt to season


Prepare the red mullet – wash in cold water and pat dry with some kitchen paper. Dust each fish with flour on both sides and shake off any excess.

Place a medium size frying pan onto a high heat to warm through, approx. 5 minutes. Get a large plate lined with kitchen paper ready and place it next to your cooker. Add a good amount of olive oil to the frying pan; it should be about 1-2cms deep. Give the oil a couple of minutes to heat up.

To check that the oil is hot enough, put a tiny piece of bread into the hot oil and if it sizzles and starts to brown straight away then the temperature is right.

Carefully slide the red mullets into the pan. Do not over crowd the pan as it will cause the temperature of the oil to drop and the fish will boil rather than fry so you might have to fry in 2 batches.

Fry the red mullets for 3 minutes on each side if they are small (like the ones in the picture) or 5 minutes on each side if they are bigger. You’ll know when they are cooked as the flesh turns white and starts to move away from the bone very slightly. Lift the red mullets from the pan with a slotted spoon and tongs and place on the kitchen paper lined plate. Season with coarse sea salt.

Serve with a green salad and some roast potatoes with garlic and rosemary.

Preparation time 10 minutes, cooking 10 minutes, serves 4

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