Grey Mullet with Bechamel Sauce

This method of preparing grey mullet ensures that it is both tender and tasty, and the delicate flavour of the fish is enhanced by the addition of mushrooms and celery. Serve with buttered noodles and courgettes for a perfect summer’s meal.


4 lb. grey mullet, cleaned and filleted

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 ½ tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 shallots, sliced

4 oz. mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced

1 celery stalk, chopped

10 fl. oz. dry white wine

5 fl. oz. fish stock

1 pint bechamel sauce

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

On a large wooden board, sprinkle the fish fillets with the salt and pepper and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt half of the butter with the olive oil over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the shallots and fry them, stirring occasion-ally, for 3 to 4 minutes or until they are soft but not brown. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In another small saucepan, melt the remaining butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the mush-rooms and celery. Fry them, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Arrange the seasoned fish fillets, skin side down, on top of the shallots in the saucepan. Cover them with the mush-rooms and celery. Pour over the wine and fish stock and cover the pan with a circle of aluminium foil. Slit the foil in the centre to allow the steam to escape. Return the pan to low heat and poach the fish for 15 minutes or until it flakes easily when tested with a fork.

With a slotted spoon, remove the fish fillets from the saucepan and transfer them to a warmed serving dish. Keep warm.

Increase the heat under the saucepan to high and bring the poaching liquid to the boil. Boil for 4 to 6 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to one-third of its original quantity.

Reduce the heat to low and, with a wooden spoon, stir in the bechamel sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Do not allow the sauce to boil.

Pour the sauce over the fish, sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

Grey Mullet Martigues

One of the simplest ways of preparing whole fish, Grey Mullet Martigues makes a delicious lunch or supper dish. Serve with boiled new potatoes and broccoli.

2 fl. oz. plus

1 teaspoon olive oil 4 small grey mullets, cleaned but with heads left on 2 teaspoons salt medium-sized onions, thinly sliced tomatoes, blanched, peeled and sliced

1 carrot, scraped and cut into strips

8 fl. oz. dry white wine

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried marjoram

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C). With the teaspoon of olive oil, lightly oil a large, shallow, baking dish. Set aside.

Wash the fish under cold running water and dry them thoroughly with kitchen paper towels. Sprinkle

1 teaspoon of the salt over the fish. With a very sharp knife, make three parallel diagonal cuts across each fish.

Arrange half of the sliced onions in the baking dish. Top with the tomato slices and the carrot strips. Place the remaining sliced onion on top.

Lay the fish on top of the bed of vegetables and pour over the remaining olive oil and the white wine.

Sprinkle the fish with the remaining salt, the pepper, oregano and marjoram, and top with the lemon slices. Cover the dish with aluminium foil and place it in the centre of the oven. Bake for 35 minutes.

Then remove the foil and continue baking for a further 15 minutes, basting occasionally, or until the fish is cooked but is still firm to touch. The fish should flake easily when tested with a fork.

Remove the dish from the oven and serve immediately.