Given that this dish first made its way onto my cooking repertoire whilst on a long weekend break to Jersey, this dish is only as mediterranean as the sum of its ingredients. With my Nann’s old green beetle as a runabout I found the local fish shack, The Fresh Fish Company, that sits at the water’s edge and sells its wares literally as fresh as it could be, save for being sold off the back of the boat.
I had a mission to seek out one of my favourite fish and the shack delivered. Red mullett, so I’ve been told, was one of the most valued fish in ancient Rome. The mediterranean fish would be trained to come to feed at the call of a voice, and often caressed by their owners. They were often sold for their weight in silver. Perhaps the equivalent to the modern day Koi (coy) carp. I’m afraid my respect for mullet stems solely from my absolute love for the taste, and thankfully that is achieved at considerably less than the cost of silver. It has a firm texture and a sweet, nutty flavour with little oil content, so if you are going to replicate this look to find something similar with the skin left on, like red snapper or tarakihi.
The joy of this recipe is that it is put together in literally 5 minutes, but looks and tastes like it took forever. A winning combo!
6 fillets firm white fish, skin on, deboned
1 medium jar olives, roughly chopped
1 medium jar sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts or sunflower seeds
1 bulb of fennel, sliced (optional)
1 red onion, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped small
1 lemon, in 8 slices
Poppy seeds (optional)
To start, oven goes on to 180C. Line a large baking tray with foil and lightly oil. Lay the 6 fillets across the tray and season with oil, salt and pepper. Lay 6 of the lemon slices on on top of each fillet, add the ends to the tray. Next sprinkle the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, pine nuts, onion, garlic and if you feel like it, fennel slices on top of the fish. Drizzle the veg with oil, sprinkle the poppy seeds, and season. It goes into the oven for 20 minutes. That’s it. It really is that easy and you will look like a legend for your efforts. Goes nicely with steamed kale, steamed green beans with oil and garlic, new potatoes with parsley, or steamed spinach.