Roast red mullet with courgette fries & saffron aïoli served on a white plate

Roast red mullet with courgette fries & saffron aïoli

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Prep: 25 mins Cook: 50 mins Plus at least 3 hrs chilling

More effort

Serves 2

Red mullet is such an underused fish – try it with courgette fries and a saffron aïoli on the side. This supper takes more effort, but it's well worth it

Nutrition and extra info

  • Gluten-free

Nutrition: Per serving

  • kcal737
  • fat47g
  • saturates6g
  • carbs37g
  • sugars9g
  • fibre6g
  • protein24g
  • salt1.7g


  • 2 red mullet (about 400g each), scaled, gutted and cleaned
  • ½ fennel bulb, sliced
    Fennel bulb

    Fennel bulb

    Like Marmite, fennel is something that you either love or hate – its strong aniseed…

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced



    A member of the nightshade family (along with aubergines, peppers and chillies), tomatoes are in…

  • ½ red pepper, sliced
  • 120ml white vermouth
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • olive oil, for roasting
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

For the fries

  • 2 medium courgettes



    The courgette is a variety of cucurbit, which means it's from the same family as cucumber,…

  • 50g rice flour
  • 20g polenta



    An Italian storecupboard staple, polenta has its roots in the peasant cuisine of northern Italy…

  • ½ tsp ground fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

For the aïoli

  • pinch of saffron



    The stigma of a type of crocus, saffron threads have a pungent and distinctive aroma and flavour…

  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice, plus wedges to serve
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 150ml vegetable or sunflower oil
    Sunflower oil

    Sunflower oil

    Sunflower oil is made from pressing sunflower seeds and extracting the oil. It's usually…


  1. For the aïoli, rehydrate the saffron in 1 tbsp boiling water. In a small food processor, blitz the egg yolks, a large pinch of salt, the mustard, garlic cloves and lemon juice until emulsified. With the blades still going, very slowly pour in the extra virgin oil in steady drops, increasing to a stream once it starts emulsifying. If it splits, just add a squeeze of lemon and blitz again – it will come together. Once the olive oil is incorporated, slowly pour in the vegetable or sunflower oil, blitzing the whole time, then add the saffron and its water. Blitz until creamy, then season and chill for at least 3 hrs. Will keep for up to two days in the fridge.

  2. To make the fries, cut the courgettes in half widthways. Cut each half into three thick slices, and each slice into chip-like wedges, about the size and thickness of oven chips. Tip the rice and polenta flours into a bowl with ½ tsp salt, the fennel seeds and cayenne, and stir. In another bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy. Coat the courgette strips in the egg white, then dip into the flours. Lay on a plate. Heat the olive oil over a medium to high heat, then fry the courgettes until crisp and golden all over (about 4-6 mins) – you may need to do this in batches. Drain on kitchen paper and season. 

  3. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Take the fish out of the fridge 30 mins before cooking to bring it up to room temperature. Put the fennel, bay leaf, tomatoes (keeping back four tomato slices for the mullet) and red pepper in a roasting tin and season. Drizzle over a little olive oil and roast for 10 mins. Remove from the oven and pour over the vermouth. Season the fish and rub with a little olive oil, then fill their cavities with the tomato slices and thyme, and lay them on top of the fennel mix. Cover with foil and roast for 30 mins (depending on the size of the fish), then remove the foil and roast for a further 5 mins.

  4. Transfer the fish to a plate and allow to rest under the foil. Return the tray with the peppers and fennel to the oven, along with the courgettes, for 5 mins. Serve with the fish, aïoli and lemon wedges.

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Comments, questions and tips

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6th Aug, 2018
Fancy trying this but can't have alcohol in the house. What can I use instead of the vermouth?
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