Red Mullets with Tapenade and Mandarin Juice

Tonight after work, my husband wanted to go to the movies with friends and watch a movie I was not interested in, so I decided I would treat myself at home with something nice that he was not interested in. An eye for an eye. Or a win-win situation? I also decided that I would try cooking something for the first time, something I never dared cooking before. I grilled Red Mullets (“rougets barbets” in French) and seasoned the nice and soft fish fillets with Tapenade and Mandarin Juice. It was really yummy, and so healthy!

Red Mullet Fish Fillets with Tapenade and Mandarin Juice - by cookingtrips.wordpress.com

Tonight I was “off” wife’s duty, meaning that I did not have to cook a meal for two nor check the clock before I started cooking to make sure the meal would be warm when time comes to have dinner, and obviously I did not have to prepare a “man’s meal” with everything that it implies in terms of size, calories and… carbs. Men love carbs after a long day at work, don’t they? I thought it’d be nice to have a healthy meal that does not involve carbs in the evening, but that allows a light portion of tasty proteins along with nicely seasoned veggies. I did not really plan for this dish but kind of opted for the red mullets while at the supermarket, though I was initially searching for big scampi spotted a few days before but that were no longer available today.

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I wanted my special girl’s dish to be easy to make. To go with the red mullets, I made an artichoke hearts salad and grilled a piece of cereals baguette. I wanted the overall dish to be super tasty but I also wanted it to involve as little ingredients as possible. So I recalled of a nice recipe I had seen in a magazine last month or so, and thought I would season both the fish and the artichokes salad too with a light emulsion of black tapenade and mandarin juice. You know what black tapenade is of course, it is this salty black olives purée that we love so much in the South of France. A delish, to tell the truth and say the least! The combination of the dish really was delicious, aromas were evolving from a bit iodized to a bit tangy, just what was necessary, the balance was right, and look what’s left in the plate… not much! It speaks for itself.

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I love the color of the red mullet when it’s cooked. To me, it really is artistic, and its  variation from red to orange is pure natural aesthetics. The colors are particularly vivid when the fish is fresh. As for the taste, same same, the fresher the better of course! Just don’t forget to prepare well the red mullets before grilling, discard the heads and tails, and empty them from everything that is not flesh, as it may bring in a (nasty) bitter flavor. Grill with only a few aromatics, and serve along with a slice of lemon.

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INGREDIENTS (for 1)

  • 2 small or medium fresh Red Mullets
  • 1 small mandarin
  • 2 small tsp of black tapenade
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of thyme
  • salt and pepper (a tiny bit)
  • 5 artichoke hearts
  • grilled bread of your choice
  • a slice of lemon

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare the fish, discard the head and tail, empty the organs and fish bone.
  2. Line an iron pan with a piece of baking sheet, drizzle a bit of olive oil, heat the pan, and when it’s hot start grilling the red mullets fish fillets on the flesh side. The baking sheet will prevent the flesh from sticking to the pan and eventually get damaged.
  3. Sprinkle a bit of thyme. Salt and pepper.
  4. After a few minutes, flip the fillets over to the red skin side and stop the heat after 30 seconds. Leave the fillets in the pan during a minute while you begin the preparation of the sauce and the salad.
  5. Display the red mullets fish fillets on a plate.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the tapenade and the squeezed mandarin juice. Pour a bit of this emulsion over the fish.
  7. In another bowl, roughly divide the artichoke hearts and combine with the rest of sauce.
  8. Grill some bread, and nicely assemble with the artichoke hearts salad on the fish plate.
  9. Slice some lemon if you like your fish more tangy, and serve immediately.

Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2018 All Rights Reserved. 

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