Red mullet fried in cumin flour

Red mullet fried in cumin flour

By
From
Arabesque
Photographer
William Meppem

Delicate little red mullet are adored around the Mediterranean and Middle East. Deep-fried whole, as here, they make a spectacular but simple dish. You must use whole, spanking-fresh fish. Ideally you should clean them yourself, as they are fragile, and fishmongers tend to be heavy-handed, often crushing the flesh and impairing the flavour. It is really not hard but if you are unsure, then ask your fishmonger to be as gentle as possible. A deep-fryer with a basket is useful for this dish, as you need the fish to maintain their shape for a spectacular presentation.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
8 red mullet, (120–140 g each)
salt
200g plain flour
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, roasted, ground and sieved
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon pepper
700ml vegetable oil, for deep frying

Method

  1. To clean the red mullet, leave the fins and tail attached for presentation, but scale using your thumb, running it against the scales from the tail to the head – they are delicate and come away very easily.
  2. Using a sharp knife, slice carefully along the underbelly. Hold the sides open and pull the insides away. Insert your finger into the reddish-coloured gills and pull them out too. Rinse the insides of the fish under running water, paying special attention to rubbing away the dark blood line against the back bone. Pat dry.
  3. Season the fish inside and out with salt. Heat the oil to 190°C. Season the flour with the cumin, ginger and pepper, and dust the fish all over with seasoned flour.
  4. If you are using a deep-fryer with a basket, then splay open the fish just under its chin/gills, so it sits up on its own. Place it like this in the basket – you should be able to do two or three at a time. Lower the basket gently into the oil and cook for 3–4 minutes, or until the fish are golden-brown and the flesh is firm to touch. They should ‘set’ into their new shape in the hot oil.
  5. Lift the basket out of the oil and place the fish on kitchen paper to drain.
  6. Serve them with lots of lemon wedges and preserved lemon mayonnaise.
Tags:
Middle East
Middle Eastern
Arabic
Arabian
Arabesque
Greg
Lucy
Malouf
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