The method below involves oven grilling, but you can easily choose to barbecue the fish instead. This Tunisian recipe assumes quite a large red mullet, but if you manage to find small red mullets or choose to use sardines instead (which are also great!), allow two or three per portion and reduce the cooking time substantially.
- 4 red mullets, cleaned (each 340 g net)
- 12 g mixed fresh bay leaves, rosemary and thyme
- 2 tsp cumin seeds, crushed using a mortar and pestle
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 1½ tsp salt
Lemon and celery salad
- 4 pale pointy green capsicum (peppers), or 1 regular green capsicum (pepper) (140 g gross)
- 50 ml olive oil
- 1 lemon, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 cm dice (35 g net)
- 3 light, tender celery stalks, cut into 1 cm dice (120 g net)
- 10 g tender celery leaves, finely chopped
- 15 g parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 30 g black wrinkly olives, pitted
- ½ tsp dried red chilli flakes
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp sumac
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
To make the salad, place the capsicum in a baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tsp of the oil and smear to coat. Roast for 10 minutes (30–40 minutes if using a regular capsicum), or until skin is blistered and flesh is soft. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Once cool enough to handle, peel, cut into 1 cm dice and place in a large bowl. Add the remaining olive oil, the lemon, celery and leaves, parsley, garlic, olives, chilli flakes and salt. Stir well and set aside.
Score the red mullet 2–3 times on each side in parallel lines at a 45 degree angle to the fish. Slice the bay leaves into fine strips and stuff into the incisions, followed by each of the other herbs. Place the fish on a baking tray lined with baking paper. In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, olive oil and salt. Drizzle or brush this over the fish.
Preheat a grill on high. Once hot, place fish underneath and cook for about 6 minutes on each side, or until flesh is firm and cooked through. Serve the fish with the salad on the side, dusting the salad with sumac as you serve.