There is something most attractive about fish baked whole, and Grey Mullet with Tomatoes and Capers makes an excellent centrepiece for a lunch or dinner table. Serve with Duchess potatoes and a light white wine such as Pouilly-Fuisse or Petit Chablis.
1 teaspoon butter
4 lb. grey mullet, cleaned, but with head and tail left on
1½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 lb. tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon dried chervil
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 lemon, thinly sliced parsley sprigs
Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C). With, the teaspoon of butter, lightly grease a large, shallow baking dish. Set aside.
Wash the fish under cold running water and dry it thoroughly with kitchen paper towels. Sprinkle
1 teaspoon of salt over the fish, and, with a very sharp knife, make three parallel diagonal cuts across it.
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onions and garlic and fry, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent but not brown. With a wooden spoon, stir in the chopped tomatoes, chervil, tarragon, mustard and the bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low and add the capers, tomato puree, remaining salt and the pepper. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until it is thick.
Place the fish in the baking dish and pour the sauce over it. Cover the dish with aluminium foil. Place it in the centre of the oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until the fish is cooked but still firm to the touch. The fish should flake easily when tested with a fork.
Using slotted spoons, transfer the fish to a heated serving dish. Keep it warm. Pour the sauce into a small saucepan and bring it to the boil over moderate heat. Boil for 10 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced to half its original quantity. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Pour the sauce into a warmed sauceboat.
Garnish the fish with the lemon slices and parsley and serve immediately with the sauce.