A few weeks ago I wrote a story about Mediterranean Red Mullet (Salmonete) and my absolute love for the fish. Well finally I have found a dish to do it justice!
The trouble with a product like red Mullet is that it is so good when you just simply grill it and serve it with lemon, so why do something that is not as good just for the sake of changing it? So as I am aware that the best preparation is a simple one for this product I will not confuse it too much. In this and many other cases, Less is more.
So the first idea that I had was to remove the bones then re-stick both of the fillets back together again so it eats like a meaty whole fish. As I was rolling them to set the Transglutaminase (protein glue) I found that they were holding a perfect cylinder shape under pressure. So upon seeing the dimensions and perfect white of the fish I was instantly reminded of Sushi. I then made a mix of Nori seaweed, sake, Mirin and rice vinegar as these are all the flavors you associate with sushi minus the rice. Obviously you cannot serve a big meaty piece of raw fish like red mullet (although it is very nice raw), so the next challenge was to make the liquid mix I made stick to the outside of the cylinder like real nori would stick to sushi.
For this challenge I made a mix of 3 different types of Gel to utilize the strengths of each one and over come any weaknesses they may have. Plus I had to keep in mind that the fish needed 3 and a half minutes to steam at 80 degrees so the gel had to resist this amount of time and temperature. I chose a mix of low Acyl Gellan for the heat resistance, Agar agar for the strength and Carageenan as it sets instantly as you remove the product from the gel mix and leaves a perfect coating.
Next I carefully cut it into different sized pieces of “Sushi” and seared the presentation side in a scorching hot pan with oil. This step is to give the fish that Maillard reaction and start to develop roasted flavors as after this step it only gets steamed to finish.
Keeping with the Japanese theme I prepared a Kaiseki method Dashi (I chose this method as the flavours are so delicate and you get the full power of the Umami from the Kombu), toasted some sesame seeds, sesame oil and a fine chiffonade of sorrel as it gives a very nice lemon kick. As a point of difference I added some Mexican chocolate to the dashi as the bitter sweet of the chocolate is a great match for the fish and the Cinnamon give a very delicate aroma.
Et Voila……. Red Mullet “Sushi” with cinnamon chocolate dashi