Soused red mullet with saffron and carrots

Soused red mullet with saffron and carrots

Fish Kitchen
David Loftus

Inspired by the classic escabeche, this is one way to get the very best from a red mullet. And, as a bonus, the fish passes its beautiful flavour to the saffrony sousing liquid, which lends a unique flavour to the dressing and carrots. A match made in heaven!


Quantity Ingredient
4 small red mullet
or 2 larger fish, scaled, filleted and pin-boned
100ml light rapeseed oil, plus extra for cooking
1 shallot, peeled and diced
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into fine ribbons
75ml white wine vinegar
150ml olive oil
1/2 garlic clove, peeled
a good pinch saffron strands

Carrot purée

Quantity Ingredient
light rapeseed oil, for cooking
25g butter
500g carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
150ml water
cornish sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

To finish

Quantity Ingredient
carrot or coriander leaves


  1. For the carrot purée, heat a drizzle of rapeseed oil in a medium saucepan and add the butter. Once melted, toss in the carrots with the cardamom and sweat for 3 minutes. Add the water, cover and cook over a medium-low heat, without colouring, until soft. Add a bit more water if they begin to stick. Once the carrots are soft, transfer them to a blender and blitz until smooth, adding a little of the cooking liquor to get a good consistency if need be. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside for serving.
  2. To souse the fish, heat a non-stick frying pan and add a drizzle of oil. When hot, fry the fillets skin side down for 30 seconds. Transfer to a dish large enough to hold them side by side submerged in the sousing liquor.
  3. Add a touch more oil to the pan and place over a medium-low heat. Add the shallot and carrot ribbons and cook gently, without colouring, for 1 minute. Add the wine vinegar, 100 ml rapeseed oil, olive oil, garlic and saffron and bring to a simmer. Season with salt to taste.
  4. Pour the pickling mixture over the red mullet fillets. Cover with cling film so that the fish is held submerged under the liquor and leave for 1½ hours before serving. (Or, if serving the next day, allow to cool, then refrigerate.)
  5. To serve, gently warm the carrot purée. Spoon the carrot ribbons onto plates, lay the soused red mullet on top and drizzle with a little of the oil from the sousing liquor. Spoon the carrot purée alongside. Garnish with carrot or coriander leaves.
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