Finally, finally back to Jamie. It is one of those weeks, jammed full of tedious meetings and flurries of paperwork, that I read and promptly forget the content of. There are weeks like that. Luckily there's nothing on television so I don't feel I'm missing out too much when the papers come home with me. Anyway yesterday Simon managed to use his lunch break to go to the fishmonger so we were lucky enough to be able to get red mullet. I don't know if I'd had red mullet before - I don't remember, but then I've had all sorts of fish in France that I didn't know the names for at the time, so I might have had. In any case I certainly never cooked it before so it felt more exciting than the usual suspects (salmon being most frequently called upon, mainly out of convenience). The only thing was that I was rushing around a lot yesterday and so hardly had time to brief Simon on what fish to buy. He returned from the fishmonger and announced he had found 2 red mullet, scaled, cleaned and gutted, but headless. I was disappointed because I liked the aesthetics of the head-on red mullet gleaming out of Jamie's photo; when it comes to food photos, I can be a bit superficial. I got over it quickly enough when we got home and unwrapped the fish - they looked pearly pink and beautiful, even without their heads. And losing the heads does make eating them feel a bit less visceral, somehow.
This is another simple recipe, which is good for those nights when you hurry home from work late under yet another raincloud and can't be bothered with fancy cooking. Basically, rub each fish with olive oil and season them, inside and out; stuff with lemon slices and sprigs of thyme or marjoram. Griddle on each side for 1 minute, remove to a chopping board, wrap each fish in two slices of pancetta and top with an anchovy fillet, then roast, topped with extra herbs, until cooked.
I had no idea how this was going to taste. I was hoping that the herbs, combined with lemon, pancetta and anchovy would make the dullest fish taste good. I was right, except that red mullet isn't dull at all - it had an amazing flavour. I really enjoyed this; it was incredibly tasty and, although headless, still exquisitely pink and pretty. I ate it almost drooling, and the bones for once didn't bother me, because the fish was so good. I can't believe I waited 31 years to try red mullet and I will definitely try it again, soon. Yum.
I've missed Jamie's recipes over the last week. The problem is simply finding an opportunity to locate ingredients and/or to find time to, for example, make pasta for dinner. If we get home by 6, it's fine. Any later and we're eating the wallpaper. Well, not literally, because we don't have wallpaper, but I have never been one to allow literality to cramp my style. The problem is I'm already craving red mullet again, but next I need to track down some John Dory, or a whole salmon small enough to feed two. Not to mention attend another series of meetings and read some more ozone-layer killing stacks of papers.