Recipe: Mullet, Grilled Cos, Finger Lime, Nasturtium & Roe
from The Natural Cook by Matt Stone
Contributed articles and stories
The Natural Cook - Maximum Taste, Zero Waste by Matt Stone is all about the new food revolution. It's being kind to the planet, giving your body good food and nourishing your soul at the same time.
Don't let the star fish of this dish put you off. As Matt says:
I cooked this dish at a pop-up restaurant in Australia House in London for Tourism Australia. A chef from each state had a night to prepare a menu. Shannon Bennett did a night, Maggie Beer did a night, I did a night ... This was my main course.
The organisers were a bit worried at first. Mullet has such a bad reputation for being a cheap, horrible fish. But it’s delicious when prepared well. When it’s nice and fresh, it’s as good as anything else – and a quarter of the price. I said, ‘Trust me. It’s going to be fine’ – and it was. Everyone loved it.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 2 whole sea mullets (or other small oily fish, about 1.2 kg/2 lb 10 ozin total)
- 1 tablespoon brown rice
- 2 baby cos (romaine) lettuces
- 2 finger limes
- olive oil, for drizzling
- 2 tablespoons butter
- juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoons salmon roe
- Nasturtium Sauce (see recipe below from the book)
Note: finger limes are increasingly available in summer and autumn at farmers’ markets and gourmet food stores, but can be bought frozen throughout the year from online bush food specialists.
Filleting your own fish is always best to ensure that it’s fresh and at its best. If you don’t feel up to it, I’d suggest choosing whole fish from the fishmonger and asking them to fillet it for you. Be sure to keep the bones to make a broth (see page 82). Make sure that the pin bones in the fish are removed (using tweezers is best for this). Also make sure that the rib bones are out of there.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Place the rice on a baking tray and toast in the oven for about 8 minutes until golden brown. You can also do this in a dry frying pan over medium heat and achieve a similar result. Leave the rice to cool and then grind to a fine powder using a spice grinder or
a mortar and pestle.
Remove any large outer leaves from the cos lettuces and trim any brown bits from the base. Split the cos in half lengthways. Cut the finger limes in half lengthways too and, with a small knife, gently scrape the ‘caviar’ out. Set aside.
Season the fish with a good pinch of salt and lightly drizzle with olive oil before you place it in the pan. I like to cook fish skin side down, starting in a cold non-stick frying pan. Starting the fish in a cold pan makes it a very gentle cook and gives it a chance to render out some of the fat in the skin. I use this method for any oily fish. Place the cold pan over medium heat and add your fish fillets. As the pan starts to heat, the fish will begin to fry. You want to do most of the cooking on the skin side. Cook for about 6 minutes until the skin is golden and crisp. Gently flip the fish and cook on the flesh side for 1 minute. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside to rest.
Throw the butter into the frying pan and turn the heat up to high. Once the butter is melted and bubbling away, add the cos cut side down. You want to get some nice colour on them but don’t cook them too much – you also want to retain some crunch. Once they are caramelised, squeeze in the lemon juice, leave for 30 seconds, then turn off the heat. Push the cos to the side of the pan, place the fish back in the pan to warm it up and dress it in the lemon and butter. Good times.
Be creative with the plating of this dish. You can plate it individually or as a share plate. I like to smear some nasturtium sauce on the plate, lay down a fish fillet and a cos heart, then mix the salmon roe with the finger lime caviar and scatter over willy-nilly. Sprinkle with ground brown rice, drizzle generously with olive oil and serve straight away.
Nasturtium leaves have a beautifully crisp, peppery flavour and deserve to be treated as far more than just a garnish. This sauce is perfect with fish but also works wonderfully with shellfish and roasted vegetables.
I use it in a sea mullet dish [Ed: this recipe] but you might also like to mix a little through seafood pasta with clams (vongoles) and mussels or
as a dipping sauce with salt and pepper squid.
Ingredients (makes about 300g /10½ OZ)
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
- 1 green chilli, deseeded and coarsely chopped
- ½ teaspoon dried mountain pepper leaf
- 250 ml (9 floz/1 cup) vegetable oil
- 100 g (3½ oz) nasturtium leaves, well washed
Place the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, chilli and pepper leaf into the blender (a jug-style blender is best to make this sauce, but a food processor can also be used).
Blend on a medium speed and slowly start pouring in the oil. Once about a third of the oil has been added, throw in the nasturtium leaves. Continue blending and adding the rest of the oil.
Season with salt to taste. The sauce should be bright green, thick and full of life. It will last for about 1 week in the fridge.
Note: ou can easily source dried mountain pepper leaf from online herb and spice specialists. For the nasturtium leaves, you’ll
need to grow your own or beg, borrow or steal some from neighbours or friends.
This recipe is from The Natural Cook – Maximum Taste, Zero Waste by Matt Stone and is reproduced with the kind permission of the publisher, Murdoch Books (Sydney, NSW; Aug 2016, 240pp, HC, RRP A$39.95). The book is available nationally and also direct from the publisher »
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