Barbecued Barberry Mullet

A supper for 4, from this month’s newsletter. So you don’t feel left out.
OK—so you don’t have to barbecue the fish. And you don’t have to use mullet. But the dish would otherwise have been called ‘cooked barberry fish’. Which doesn’t really sound very appetising.
We use grey mullet: it responds beautifully as its strong flavour is a perfect foil for the barberry stuffing. But trout will do just fine. If the elements conspire to dampen your barbecue, just cook the fish under the grill. Or bake them.
Whilst some of you will be hooking your own fish out of the River Peck and then cooking them whole over a camp fire on the Rye, the truth is that we are spoilt for good fishmongers in Peckham (see below), If you want to wuss out and get your fish filleted and butterflied, then we won’t tell.

  • 4 grey mullet
  • 1 teaspoon harissa spice*
  • S & P*
  • drizzle of excellent olive oil*
  • 30g sour orange peel*
  • big knob butter*
  • 1/2 bunch spring onions, finely chopped
  • 75g barberries, soaked and drained*
  • 50g nibbed almonds*
  • generous handful each of fresh dill and coriander, chopped
  • 1 cup of cooked rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron*

Wash your fish and pat them dry, and make a few incisions in the skin of each one. Mix the harissa, seasoning and some olive oil together, and rub it into the skin and cavity of the fish,.
Bring some water to the boil in a wee saucepan, and blanch the sour orange peel for a few minutes before draining. Next melt a little butter in a frying pan, and toss in the onion, barberries, and orange peel, followed minutes later by the almonds. Fry for a minute or so more, and then take it all off the heat and allow to cool before mixing with the herbs and rice.
Pour a little boiling water into a ramekin, sprinkle on the saffron, and then whisk some melted butter into it.
Place each fish on a piece of greased foil, fill the cavities with the stuffing and then either tie with kitchen twine or pin with cocktail sticks. Drizzle the buttery saffron over the fish, turning so that they are well coated.
Next, bring the foil around the fish up slightly so each one is sitting in a sort of foil dish. Do not close the foil into parcels as this will make the fish watery, smelly and detract from its barbecued appeal.
Place the fish in foil on to a hot barbecue (or place them under a hot grill), and cook for 4-5 minutes before turning each fish over and repeating the other side. If you are cooking whole fish, insert a sharp knife near the backbone in order to determine if they are cooked.
Serve with saffron rice or baked sweet potatoes. Oh, and a cracking salad.
*conveniently available at Persepolis

And about the fishmonger…

South London's most helpful fishmonger

A lot of people ask us where we buy our fish. And the answer is here. We took a photo of it as we can never remember whether they are K & A or A & K. They are just beyond the railway bridge in Rye Lane.
Now there are lots of similar shops selling fish in Peckham. But we haven’t yet found one that knows their stuff like these chaps. They go to market themselves every morning, only sell stuff that is fresh and seasonal, and are not afraid to tell you what’s what in the fish world. They offer great advice, fillet stuff beautifully, and are unusually cheerful for men who spend their lives rummaging through ice and fish guts. Don’t go there and expect lobster and mussels and all things fancy. But if it’s wet and everso fresh fish you want, they’re your men.