Oh the multiple joys of the dry weather! A gloriously sunny day yesterday. A long, lazy walk down the estuary was followed by a trip to Dai’s shed to see what he might have available. The blackboard said bass and mullet. Woo hoo! Jill was in charge, as Dai was bringing in the lobster pots. I asked for one of each, and was staggered at the size of them! Super fresh. Each over a foot long, bright of eye, and beautifully silver-grey, stunning. She only had two mullets left, so I was lucky. I hate de-scaling fish – I always end up covered in scales – but Jill did the job in double-quick time and gutted them both for me as well. As I watched the process with envy at her speed another customer arrived. A nice little exchange:
[Clock showing 3.20pm].
Customer: “What time do you close?”
Jill, smiling and looking at the clock: “2 O’clock!”
Customer, also laughing: “I better not come back a bit later then!”
When I left, he was still waiting patiently in line and I hope that he enjoyed his fish as much as I enjoyed mine. Whilst I was there, the owners of Proper Gander came in to pick up seafood for the restaurant as Dai returned with his lobster pots and the day’s catch. Couldn’t have been fresher!
The ideal way to serve the fish would have been whole, but even if I starved myself for a couple of days that wasn’t going to work :-). I’ve never tried filleting a raw fish, so I cut the fish into chunks when I got home, the first chunk for last night, the others put in the freezer, with heads and tails also frozen for a future fish stock.
I have been indulging in a bit of a North African and Middle Eastern phase, having been reunited with my tagine and my spice collection, but I chose to keep things perfectly simple. I floured my piece of mullet, fried it in a mix of butter and olive oil and served it with something mid way between chermoula and a sauce vierge. It was composed of fine-diced tomato, capers and banana shallot, finely chopped mint, parsley, lovage, and oregano in a virgin olive oil and a big squeeze of lemon juice, with some minced garlic thrown in for fun, livened up with with a punch of Berbere spices (a blend that I found in the Co-op pin Tywyn). I also sautéed some spuds and threw a couple of baby courgettes on the griddle. The herbs all came from my garden except for the oregano that I spotted growing all along the estuary walk – a nice, bijou little forage! I do wish that I could grow coriander, but it goes straight to seed.
Mullet turns out to be a stunning fish. I had never had it before and was told that if caught in estuary waters it could taste very muddy but this was caught out at sea and was anything but muddy. It had a clean, fresh taste, beautifully white and full of flavour. It is often compared with sea bass, but of the two I prefer the mullet. It has better flavour and a much better texture. The fresh and clean flavours of the fish, the herbs and the spices all worked well together.
Dai’s Shed is open til the end of October, so if you’re hoping for some excellent locally caught fish, you need to get your skates on.