Vine Leaf Wrapped Grey Mullet

An extremely succulent and piquant method of presenting a large fish at a dinner party, Vine Leaf Wrapped Grey Mullet may be served with boiled new potatoes.

1 x

32- lb. grey mullet, cleaned and with head and tail left on

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 oz. butter

1 oz. shallots, sliced

1 lb. courgettes , trimmed and finely sliced

6 oz. fresh white breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon aniseed

1 fl. oz. Pernod

25 canned vine leaves, drained, rinsed in hot water and patted dry with kitchen paper towels

4 fl. oz. dry white wine

Sprinkle the fish inside and out with half the salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180CC).

In a large saucepan, melt half the butter over a moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the shallots, the remaining salt and pepper and fry, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the shallots are soft and translucent but not brown.

Add the courgettes , reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until the courgettes are tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife.

Add the breadcrumbs, dill, aniseed and Pernod and, using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Set the mixture aside to cool.

Spoon the breadcrumb mixture into the cavity of the fish. Secure the opening of the fish with a trussing needle and thread.

Using half the remaining butter, grease a piece of aluminium foil large enough to enclose the fish completely. Lay all but 5 of the vine leaves over the area that the fish will cover and place the fish on the leaves. Place the remaining vine leaves over the fish. Transfer the fish to a large baking tin, cut the remaining butter into small pieces and sprinkle them over the fish. Pour the wine over the fish and enclose it in the aluminium foil. Place the tin in the centre of the oven. Bake the fish for 35 to 45 minutes or until the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Remove the tin from the oven and transfer the fish to a large serving dish, rolling back the aluminium foil and vine leaves to expose the fish. Spoon over the cooking juices and serve immediately.

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