Eats, Shoots & Reads

Eats #40: Sweet! Tangy! Salty!

Ingredients: [Salad] 3 large handfuls of various tomatoes, fresh dill, fresh basil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil. [Fish] 4 red mullet fillets, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, flour, extra virgin olive oil. [Breadcrumbs] 200g stale bread, lemon, 2 dried chillies, fresh thyme, extra virgin olive oil.

Difficulty: 2/5
Rating: 3/5

Start by making the tomato salad. Slice the tomatoes into irregular shapes and place in a bowl. Finely chop the dill and basil and mix in with the tomatoes. Drizzle with a good glug of extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Adjust the quantities until the combination is tangy, sweet and pops in your mouth.

Season the red mullet with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and dust with flour. Heat a glug of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and fry the fillets for 3 minutes skin side down until crisp and vibrant red. Flip the fillets and fry for a further 2-3 minutes until cooked and put to one side.

Finally, blitz the bread in a food processor until you have breadcrumbs or small croutons. Add a glug of extra virgin olive oil to the same pan the fish was cooked in and add the zest of a lemon, 2 crushed chillies and a handful of finely chopped fresh thyme. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until golden and crisp.

Place a pile of tomatoes on a plate and flake over the red mullet. Finally scatter the breadcrumbs over the salad and serve!

Review

To be honest I have mixed feelings about this recipe. Conceptually this recipe sounds delicious and although aspects of it were I’m not sure my execution was precise enough to make it work.

The dish was fresh and clean and the tomatoes were sweet, delicate and and had a lovely crunch. The dressing was tangy and the red wine vinegar gave it the punch it needed. I’ve never used red wine vinegar before but it’s definitely something I’ll be experimenting with in the future.

The red mullet was soft, flaky and delicate and had a light, subtle flavour that worked well with the toasted crunch of the breadcrumbs. I’d definitely cook red mullet again and could see it working really well with Thai spices or simply pan fried with couscous.

Overall a tasty dish but the balance of flavours just wasn’t quite right. At times the red mullet was too salty (if not eaten with the tomatoes) and the kick from the dried chillies was over powering.

A really mixed review as I neither love nor hate it… I think with some tweaking of quantities, seasoning and spice it could work wonderfully. Is it something I’d try again? Who knows!

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