Red mul­let

The Northern Star - - LIFE -

WOOD TYPE: or­ange HEAT: in­tense embers AD­DI­TIONAL EQUIP­MENT: en­closed grill rack In­gre­di­ents 8 red mul­let Zest and juice of 8 or­anges Zest and juice of 2 limes 1 lemon­grass stem, bruised and chopped finely ½ tsp fen­nel seeds 1 bunch baby car­rots, peeled and finely sliced 3 baby fen­nel bulbs, outer lay­ers peeled and finely sliced Sea salt 4 spring onions, finely chopped 100ml olive oil, plus ex­tra to driz­zle ½ bunch fen­nel fronds, picked 1 head fen­nel flow­ers Method Pre­pare your embers. Scale and gut the fish, and re­move the gills. Rinse quickly and dry well. But­ter­fly the fish. Use a sharp knife to make an in­ci­sion along the skin on the back of the fish to one side of the dor­sal fin. Fol­low­ing this line, run the knife hor­i­zon­tally from the head to the tail, go­ing half­way to the back­bone. Move the knife through to the un­der­side of the fish, then run the knife along the whole fil­let. Turn the fish over and re­peat on the other side.

With a pair of scis­sors, care­fully cut the back­bone free be­hind the head and in front of the tail. This will en­able you to eas­ily re­move the back­bone while re­tain­ing the head and tail, which hold the fish to­gether dur­ing grilling. Trim the belly. Lo­cate the bones run­ning along the mid­dle of the top half of the fil­let and care­fully re­move them us­ing tweez­ers.

Pre­pare the es­cabeche veg­eta­bles. In a small saucepan, com­bine the zest and juice of the or­anges and limes, the lemon­grass and the fen­nel seeds. Bring to the boil and sim­mer un­til re­duced to ap­prox­i­mately 200ml of liq­uid. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve and, while warm, pour over the sliced car­rots and fen­nel. Leave for 40 min­utes to mac­er­ate.

Sea­son the flesh of the fish with sea salt, and grill in an en­closed grill rack over in­tense embers for 2 min­utes, skin side down, un­til beau­ti­fully caramelised.

Mean­while, drain the car­rot and fen­nel (re­serv­ing the liq­uid) and grill for 2 min­utes with the spring onions un­til lightly charred. Sea­son, driz­zle with olive oil and gar­nish with half of the fresh fen­nel fronds.

Trans­fer the fish to a clean tray, add the re­served es­cabeche liq­uid and al­low to rest for 1 minute, dur­ing which time the acid­ity will fin­ish cook­ing the fish.

Gen­tly heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and pour it over the red mul­let. Strain all the liq­uid back into the saucepan, whisk­ing con­tin­u­ously and al­low­ing a light emul­sion to form.

Place the pick­led and grilled veg­eta­bles on a plate, top with the fish and pour the emul­sion over. Fin­ish with the re­main­ing fresh fen­nel fronds and the flow­ers. Serve im­me­di­ately.

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