Red mullet and squid with oven-dried tomatoes, wild fennel and pickled mushrooms

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For a gorgeous red mullet recipe, look no further than this performance of flavours by Nathan Outlaw. Your guests will feel indulged with this punchy Mediterranean seafood combination, juxtaposing shimmering red mullet with tender white rings of squid. The juicy oven-dried tomatoes and pickled mushrooms are surprisingly easy to make and can be made in advance. You can use regular fennel from your local greengrocer if you can't find the wild variety.

First published in 2015




The red mullet and squid


Pickled mushrooms

Flavoured butter

Red wine reduction


To cook the tomatoes, preheat the oven to 110°C/gas mark 1/4. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Cut a cross at the base of each tomato and blanch for 10 seconds. Drain and refresh in ice-cold water. Once the tomatoes are cool, drain and peel them. Cut into quarters lengthways, then remove and discard the seeds
Line a roasting tray with foil and rub it with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Season the tray with salt, freshly ground black pepper and the sugar, then slice the garlic and sprinkle it and the thyme over the tray. Add the tomatoes and drizzle with the remaining olive oil
Roast the tomatoes for 1 hour, turning them over halfway through cooking. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool, then remove the tomatoes from the tray. (If you don't wish to use them straightaway, the tomatoes can be stored in the fridge covered with oil for 3-4 days)
To make the pickled mushrooms, finely chop the shallot and garlic. Heat a non-reactive frying pan over a medium heat, add the olive oil and, when it's hot, add the mushrooms. Fry for 1-2 minutes, then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the shallot, garlic and wild fennel tops, then deglaze the pan with the red wine vinegar
Transfer the contents of the pan to a sealable jar and set aside to cool. (The pickled mushrooms can also be made in advance and stored in the fridge, covered in olive oil, for 3-4 days)
To make the flavoured butter, chop the fennel tops and crush the garlic. Put them in a saucepan with the butter and heat slowly until the butter melts and takes on a nut-brown colour. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid butter through a muslin-lined sieve, discarding the solids. Keep warm or store in the fridge until ready to use (you will not need all of it for this recipe)
To make the red wine reduction, chop the red onion and garlic and put them in a non-reactive saucepan with the wine, vinegar and a pinch of sugar. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-8 minutes, until the mixture is slighty syrupy. Strain into a clean pan, discarding the solids. Clean and prepare the squid, then cut the body into 5mm rings and the tentacles into pieces. Fillet and pin-bone the red mullet
Heat a non-stick frying pan with a little olive oil until smoking. Lay the fish in the pan skin-side down and cook for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt then turn the fillets over and cook for a further 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat (the fish will finish cooking in the residual heat)
  • olive oil
Heat a separate non-stick pan with a little olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the squid and fry for 1 minute on each side. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Combine 1 tablespoon of the red wine reduction with 5 tablespoons of the flavoured butter in a saucepan and heat very gently until just warmed through. Add the pickled mushrooms and some of the extra wild fennel tops
Arrange some of the oven-dried tomatoes, squid pieces and pickled mushrooms on serving plates. Place a fillet of fish on top of each portion, then spoon over the warmed sauce, followed by more oven-dried tomatoes and squid rings
First published in 2015

Nathan Outlaw cooks with understated brilliance and passionate respect for primary ingredients.

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