Grey mullet (Chelon abrosus) is a recent introduction in northern waters. The warm water around the power stations and the general warming of the seas are responsible for having provided breeding ground for this delicious vegetarian fish that eventually grows to a huge size, serving up to 12 people.
The fish has no teeth, just soft kissable lips, as it’s a grazer of soft seaweeds. This makes it almost impossible to catch on a rod; whereas a net close to the shore is ideal. It can grow to an impressive 80cm, but most grey mullets are much smaller.
Appearance and taste
The fish is covered in huge silver coin scales that need to come off before you cut it open. It’s easy to do yourself, or you can have the fishmonger do it for you. The flesh is white, flaky, sweet flavored, and so dense it will stick together even if grilled whole or in fillets. The flesh is fatty and rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
Grey mullet has much of the same qualities as wild salmon, even if it’s not quite so fatty, and you can cook it instead of salmon, in every way you wish. It’s not farmed, and is a much better choice than farmed conventional salmon.
Grey mullet gas been a favorite fish for grilling whole in its home in southern European waters for millennia, but fits naturally into the northern repertoire of serving fish with spiky horseradish, or pickled cucumber salad. The bones and head are very good for fish soup.
The flesh will cook to an almost lobster-like firmness if cut into dice or strips and added at the last moment to the soup. But the preparation that will show of the mullet in all its glory is when fried crisp on the grill or in a pan. The skin is delicious and so is the flesh underneath.
It’s essential that grey mullet is not overcooked, either way you choose to cook it. It is extremely filling and 250g fish on the bone is enough for one serving. When the flesh is just firm, and it’s still little pink in the middle, or by the bone it’s cooked. Longer, and it will dry up, and what a shame that would be.
Gravad with dill, or baked in slices on a plate are also very good ways to eat the fish, and prepared as the fried Mackerel with gooseberries, or with a rhubarb compote; new potatoes are perfect with grey mullet. The frying and the butter/olive oil works miracles.
Fried pieces of grey mullet are delicious when soused, like herring, and if it’s served with cucumber salad, you can pair the two in a deep dish and eat it for lunch the day after, with toasted rye bread.
Scandinavian Grey Mullet, written by Tor Kjolberg