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Seasonal seafood: yelloweye mullet

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Locally caught Coorong yelloweye mullet is classed as one of the most sustainable fish in South Australia and fisherman Glen Hill shares a favourite recipe for cooking it.

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Yelloweye mullet is mainly caught in the Coorong lagoons that run south for about 140km at the end of the River Murray. It has a distinctive sweet flavour and is high in Omega 3.

The taste of the flesh varies slightly according to the salinity of the Coorong and the food sources the fish eats. The flesh is moist with a soft to medium texture.

Glen and Tracy Hill operate Coorong Wild Seafood, a fishing and processing business at Meningie. Since 1992, they have been supplying consumers through a range of outlets, from restaurants to seafood retailers, supermarkets and butchers. Glen takes his 5m dinghy out daily to bring his catch home from the Coorong.

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Fisherman Glen Hill.

Fish should be placed in the coldest part of the fridge in an airtight container. The Hills recommend that fresh fish not being used within 24 hours of purchase should be frozen to keep it at its best quality. If freezing, remove air from the bag or vacuum pack to reduce freezer burn.

The Coorong style of filleting as a butterfly joined at the belly produces fillets that should have no major bones. There will always be a line of pin bones down the centre of each piece, as the fish are relatively small, but these cook out easily. For peace of mind with children, the Hills recommend that the tail section be used because it has no bones.

Coorong Wild Seafood operates as part of the Lakes and Coorong Fishery in a Ramsar-listed wetland of international significance in the Coorong National Park. The Lakes and Coorong Fishery has achieved Marine Stewardship Council certification as a sustainable fishery, the highest environmental credentials in the world. It is a coastal inshore fishery which uses low-impact fishing methods and has an ecosystem-based focus that has won a number of environmental awards.

Coorong yelloweye mullet is available most of the year with occasional quiet periods, but is currently on the menu at Strathalbyn’s The Olfactory Inn, a favourite restaurant of the Hills. Here, The Olfactory Inn shares its recipe for grilled Coorong mullet.

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The Olfactory Inn’s Coorong mullet with mushroom ragout and beurre blanc.

Grilled Coorong Mullet With Sautéed Potato, Asparagus & Mushroom Ragout, Beurre Blanc

Ingredients

500g Coorong mullet fillets (cut into single fillets if butterflied)
100ml vegetable oil to fry in (50ml for fish, 50ml for potatoes and asparagus)
A pinch of salt and ground white pepper for seasoning
1 lemon cut in half to squeeze over fish at end of cooking
2 limes, cut into quarters to serve
Pinch of sea salt to garnish
Crispy-fried shallots or leeks to garnish (optional)
400g boiled Desiree potato, cooled, cut into roughly 2cm cubes
1 bunch blanched asparagus, cooled, cut into 4cm lengths
50g butter
1/3 bunch chopped dill
1/3 glass of dry white wine
A couple of pinches of flaky sea salt
300g mushroom ragout (see recipe below)
200ml beurre blanc (see recipe below)

Method

Make your mushroom ragout first – maybe even a day ahead of time. Cook and cut your potatoes and asparagus at this time as well.

Make your beurre blanc an hour or so ahead of time and then cover with cling wrap and keep in a warm place (blood temp) until ready to serve. You can cut your lemons and limes and chop your dill at this time, too, in preparation to finish the dish

In a 30cm frypan, heat 50ml of the vegetable oil until it just starts to smoke, then add potatoes. Be careful – it will spit and crackle at you! Immediately stir to sautee the potatoes until they get a bit crispy, about 3 mins or so (if they start to look a bit dry – add a bit more oil). Add asparagus, butter, dill and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sautee for a further 2 mins. Add mushroom ragout and white wine and cook for a further 5 mins, then turn off and let sit until ready to serve.

While you are waiting for the potato, mushroom and asparagus mix to finish cooking, get another 30 to 40cm pan on the stove with the other 50ml of oil in it. While that is heating up, get your fish fillets onto a large plate and lightly season them with salt and pepper. When the oil just starts to smoke, quickly add the fillets, skin side down first (be careful, the oil will spit at you a bit!).

As soon as you have the last fillet in the pan (you may have to go up the sides of the pan a bit to fit them all in and make sure there is enough oil for all the fillets), start flipping over the first fillets you put in. The pan should still be crackling away (if it’s not really making any noise at all you will have to slow down the process to allow the pan to regain heat as you add the fillets).

Once you have finished flipping all the fillets, squeeze over the juice of the lemon (if it’s really hot you’ll get a bit of a flame here) and turn the pan off. Let sit until you are ready to serve. The fillets should have only a very light golden colour from the frying process and should have been on the heat for a total of about 3 mins (1 ½ mins per side).

Sometime during the cooking of the fish you should have turned off your potato, asparagus and mushroom mix.

To serve

Arrange the potato, mushroom and asparagus mix over four dinner plates. Place 3 – 4 fillets of mullet per person on top of the potato mix, Drizzle some beurre blanc around the outside of that. Pop a couple of lime wedges on each plate, sprinkle with a little flaky sea salt and crispy shallots/leeks (if using). Serve immediately

Serves 4

Beurre Blanc

Ingredients

250ml dry white wine
250ml cream
150g cold butter, cut into 2cm cubes

Method

Put the wine in a heavy-based stainless-steel pan and simmer to reduce to 100ml. Add cream, lower heat and reduce the mix down to 200ml. Whisk the mix every 5 mins or so, ensuring it doesn’t boil over. Add butter cubes one at a time, whisking the mix as you go. You can also use a stab mixer to do this. 

Serve immediately or cover pan with cling wrap and keep in a warm place (blood temp) for up to 2 hours. Whisk again before serving.

Makes 300ml (6 serves)

Mushroom Ragout

Ingredients

1kg mushrooms, sliced
2 medium onions, peeled and finely sliced
½ bunch parsley, chopped
100ml olive oil
50g butter (optional)
6 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 punnet enoki mushrooms, sliced (remove 3cm from base of stems so they don’t stick together)
1 punnet oyster mushrooms, torn into strips)
½ glass dry white wine

Method

Put the oil in a heavy-based 30cm pot and heat until it just starts to smoke. Add the onions and parsley and cook for a couple of minutes. Give it a bit of a stir and then add the sliced mushrooms, cook for a couple more minutes, stirring now and again. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and butter (if using) and cook, stirring occasionally for another 5 mins. Add the other mushrooms and wine and cook, stirring occasionally for another 3 to 4 mins. Turn off heat and let sit until ready to use. The ragout can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.

Makes 8 to 12 serves

A box of Coorong yelloweye mullet will be sold to the highest bidder at the next SEAsonal SEEchange auction at 7am on Wednesday, April 27, at the Safcol Central Fish Market, 54-58 London Road, Mile End. For more information, visit the Wildcatch Fisheries SA website or call 7221 1960.

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