Pan-fried red mullet with cuttlefish confit and sea urchin jus

Pan-fried red mullet with cuttlefish confit and sea urchin jus

Steve Brown

Red mullet or rouget is also called barbonia and is known in France as rougetbarbet. It is highly prized in the Mediterranean region. The best rouget are those with a bright reddish-pink skin streaked with gold and with a black striped dorsal fin, two scales under its eyes and a pair of barbels beneath the chin.

With the soft red mullet and cuttlefish, crunchy croutons, sweet tomatoes and tangy parmesan, this is a truly lively dish.


Quantity Ingredient
3 x 400g red mullet
100ml extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4 coriander seeds, finely ground
pinch saffron threads
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
6 basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Cuttlefish confit

Quantity Ingredient
1/2 medium onion, cut into 5 mm dice
1 garlic clove, roughly crushed
2 sprigs thyme
200ml olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 slices white bread, cut into 5 mm dice
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 small cuttlefish, cleaned and finely sliced
30 sun-dried cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon grated parmesan
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, very finely shredded to a chiffonade
few drops lemon juice

Sea urchin jus

Quantity Ingredient
300ml Rouget jus
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
few drops orange juice
18 sea urchin tongues
80ml sea urchin juice, (see note)
salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. To prepare the red mullet:

    Use a very sharp knife to scrape off the scales from the tail to the head – they are delicate and come away easily. Slice away the fillets and remove any pin bones. Arrange the fillets skin side up on a shallow tray. Drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle the remaining ingredients evenly over the fish pieces. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. For the cuttlefish confit:

    Put the diced onion in a small heavy-based pan with the garlic and thyme. Pour on the oil and season well with salt and pepper. Cook at a very low even temperature, between 70–80°C for around 45 minutes. Don’t allow the oil to simmer – you should just see the odd bubble rising to the surface. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the onions to a small colander and drain. Reserve the flavoured oil but discard the aromatics.
  3. Heat a few tablespoons of the flavoured oil in a frying pan and fry the diced bread until golden brown, turning to brown evenly. Drain well on kitchen paper and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the cooked onions and sliced cuttlefish into a heavy-based pan with 2 tablespoons of the flavoured oil. Cook over a very low heat, stirring gently. You just want to warm the cuttlefish through – be careful not to overcook it. As it warms, it softens and turns opaque. At this point, remove the pan from the heat. Add the croutons, tomatoes, grated cheese and parsley and stir gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper and add a drop of lemon juice. Keep warm.
  5. To prepare the sea urchin jus:

    Put the rouget jus in a small pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the oil, orange juice, sea urchin tongues and juice and season to taste.
  6. When ready to serve:

    Preheat the oven to 140°C , remove the fish fillets from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Cook, still in the marinade, for about 6 minutes, until medium-rare and aromatic.
  7. Divide the cuttlefish confit between 6 warm serving plates. Arrange the red mullet fillets on top and spoon over the sea urchin jus. Serve immediately.


  • Each spine-covered urchin shell (known as the test) yields a small amount of juice.
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