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Grilled red mullet

Updated: Mon, 4 January, 2021

Red mullet is small, beautifully coloured fish best enjoyed in early autumn. Perhaps that's why it has that rusty-pink, autumnal hue to its skin.

grilled whole red mullet

Red mullet is also known by its French name rouget which I'm fond of as it sounds nothing like the hideous haircut. Truly seasonal fish, it appears on the British fishmongers' stalls in late summer.

Small fish full of bones?

That may well be applicable to sardines and herring but not to red mullet. This one is astonishingly easy to eat even when cooked whole, as the little bones helpfully cling to the main bone with only a scattering along the sides. Nothing that would repel even a staunch fishbone-phobe.

fresh red mullet

Texture to die for

And the little mullet is the flakiest fish in the world. It is therefore hard to overcook; the commonest crime when cooking fish. It is juicy and succulent - I call fish flesh like that slimy in the best possible sense. If it grew bigger, it would probably make the meanest fish and chips.

Fillets or whole fish?

But since it is small, I think that filleting it is a bit of a waste, especially as the bones come out cleanly out of the whole cooked mullet. Interestingly, it is actually the smaller, the nicer; the overgrown specimen sometimes being on the mushy side.

grilled red mullet with anchovy butter

How to cook red mullet

As above - don't fillet it unless you're a fancy chef creating a recherché starter. Grilling works the best because the resulting crisp pink skin of the rouget is just divine. I have never tried it on barbecue and would probably find it tricky - barbecuing fish is a blink of an eye between crisp and charcoaled - but a bbq master should certainly try.

grilled rouget with butter and coriander

Seasoning red mullet for the grill

None really needed if the fish is spanking fresh but I like a little anchovy butter brushed over that glorious skin to make it even more glorious.

And finally, a caveat - if only you can, ask your fishmonger to scale and gut it for you. I'm a dab hand at gutting fish but rouget is just SO MESSY it's better to leave that task to the professionals - otherwise you end up with mutilated fish flesh and yourself gutted.

grilled red mullet

Servings: serve 2-3 fish per personTime: 10 minutes
Rating: (1 reviews)


  • 2-3 small red mullets per person, cleaned, gutted and scaled, heads on
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped coriander


1. Season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper.

2. Melt the butter in a small pan, add the anchovy fillet and mash it with a fork until it dissolves. Add the chopped coriander and keep warm.

anchovy butter

3. Heat the grill to medium. Brush the mullet generously with the seasoned butter all over, place them under the grill on a rack and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on their size.

red mullet under grill

4. Brush with the butter again before and after turning them over. Serve immediately.

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Your comments

Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Antonio - thank you for the comment. With the bones, sometimes it's not so easy, I agree.
4 years ago
Antonio Thomas
one I grilled small fish but that was not that easy to remove bones, the middle one is simple but once you grill it the others on the sides get stuck in meat. But I appreciate the way you explained it.
4 years ago

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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