4 red mullet, from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger, scaled, cleaned and gutted
1 small bunch fresh oregano, leaves picked
freshly ground black pepper
For the salsa
1 handful black olives, stoned and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
a few sprigs fresh rosemary
6 ripe tomatoes, different colours if you can find them, roughly chopped
juice of ½ lemon
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and torn
When cooking fish, you don't have to stick to soft herbs like tarragon or dill – gutsy, woody herbs like oregano, thyme or rosemary are great with fish like red mullet.
In the UK, red mullet are hard to get hold of at the moment. Make sure your fish is from a sustainable source, and if you can't find sustainable red mullet, go for small red snapper instead.
First get your barbecue going, with the coals piled up high on one side so it's super hot and low on the other side for a more gentle heat to give you some control.
With a sharp knife, score each of your fish all over on both sides, about 1cm deep. This helps the flavours to get into the fish and will allow the heat right in so the fish gets cooked evenly right down to the bone.
Get a big chopping board ready. Roughly chop the oregano leaves, then scatter them over the board. Sprinkle over a generous amount of salt and pepper. Roll the fish over board, pushing them down and rubbing the flavourings into the slashes.
Place fish on to the hot side of the barbie to give them a bit of colour. You'll be making your salsa on the cooler side (or on your hob). Just heat a little olive oil in a frying pan, add the chopped olives and warm them through for a minute or so. Add the garlic, chilli and rosemary sprigs, give it a good toss and gently fry while you finish cooking your fish.
After about 4 minutes, turn the fish over by easing them off the grill with a fish slice – be patient otherwise they will stick – and cook for another 4 minutes until cooked and moist on the inside, with a crispy skin on the outside.
Remove and discard the sprigs of rosemary from the frying pan; they will have released lots of flavour so they've done their job. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan and toss. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the parsley leaves. Give the salsa a taste. Olives are usually quite salty so you probably don't need any more salt but that's your call. I might add a little pepper though. Once everything is warmed through, take the pan off the heat.
Remove the fish to a plate. To make sure they are cooked, pull a bit of the meat away from the bone. If it comes away easily, you're in business.
Serve the fish simply with some salsa spooned over the top.
P.S. If you've got any leftovers, what I like to do is pull the fish away from the bone and flake it into a bowl. Toss with the leftover salsa, add some extra torn parsley leaves or peppery rocket, and serve with some nice bread.
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This fresh, beautiful-looking recipe with herby olive oil works a treat with red snapper too
BUYING SUSTAINABLY SOURCED FISH
Buying sustainably sourced fish means buying fish that has been caught without endangering the levels of fish stocks and with the protection of the environment in mind. Wild fish caught in areas where stocks are plentiful are sustainably sourced, as are farmed fish that are reared on farms proven to cause no harm to surrounding seas and shores.
When buying either wild or farmed fish, ask whether it is sustainably sourced. If you're unable to obtain this information, don't be afraid to shop elsewhere – only by shopping sustainably can we be sure that the fantastic selection of fish we enjoy today will be around for future generations.
For further information about sustainably sourced fish, please refer to the useful links below:
Marine Stewardship Council