by Rick Stein

The red mullet off Monemvasia are supposedly the best in the Aegean. A net full of them, red yes, but pink too with flashes of yellow as the sun rose on a still dark blue sea is a lovely recollection, and fried for breakfast later they were quite memorable. A month later though, I saw three autumn mullet in our fish shop and I cooked them simply with a dusting of semolina. I used to think the Mediterranean mullet were better than ours, but now I know the ones that come to Cornwall in autumn are pretty hard to beat.

Main course

Buyer's guide

Red mullet is sold whole and in fillets, both fresh and frozen. Whole fish are usually sold un-prepared. They require trimming, scaling and gutting. Red mullet is best bought from May to November, outside of spawning season, to protect stocks.


The liver of red mullet, with its creamy texture similar to chicken liver, is a delicacy and is usually left intact when the fish is gutted. Red mullet fillets require pin-boning, but the fine skin, once scaled, is usually left attached. Red mullet is most often pan-fried, grilled or steamed; the bones make excellent stock. It is popular in France and in many Mediterranean countries.