Cefalo Sulla Brace

Grey Mullet on the Braise

Preparation info

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Honey from a Weed

By Patience Gray

Published 1986

  • About

Method

The fish should weigh at least 1 kilo ( lb). Leaving on the scales, you remove the gills from the head and, making a small incision in the stomach, draw out the gut. Replace the liver in the cavity after removing the sac of gall, and put in a frond of rosemary. Pour over the fish on a dish a small quantity of wine vinegar, red or white, and a little oil.

Put a grid on a tripod over a glowing fire, lay the fish on it and cook for 5 minutes on either side. Turn again and baste by dipping a twig of rosemary into the vinegar and oil and brushing the fish with it. The fire having died down a little by now, cook for another 10 minutes on each side (30 minutes in all), basting from time to time. Place on a board; the skin and scales can be removed entire by lifting with a spatula. Serve with olive oil and lemons, or with salsa verde.

If by good fortune you see that the cefalo has a golden spot beside its eye and a sheen faintly golden instead of the silver found in the ordinary grey mullet, pounce upon it. The golden grey mullet has more substance and a far better taste, probably from frequenting deeper waters. The cefalo dorato arrives in shoals in the Ionian in late September in search of warmer shallow water in which to spawn, drawn from the deeper Adriatic by the presence of freshwater springs along the coast from Leuca to Gallipoli (see Congedo, Salento Scrigno d’Acqua, in the Bibliography). These fish have the most delicious roe.

Cook them as above, first removing the roe. Put this in a strainer, plunge into boiling water, quench with cold water, remove the membrane and put the roe into a mortar with 2 pounded cloves of garlic and a little sea salt. Pound together, then add the juice of a lemon, stirring, and a little olive oil. This makes a perfect sauce for the roast fish. You can add to it very finely chopped parsley or coriander leaves if you wish.