The warm waters of the Mediterranean, Aegean and Ionian Seas make a tempting home for the red mullet, so it's popular in the cuisines of countries like Italy, Greece and Spain. While they're happy in the chillier waters of the North Atlantic, they tend not to venture much further than the southern stretches of the North Sea. That means here in the West Country, we're lucky to have them around. The boats that fish out of Brixham in Devon will pick them up as part of the very varied haul they get from the clean, fast-flowing waters around our coastline. Because they're not specifically targetted, red mullet numbers are relatively healthy.
The firm texture of red mullet means it doesn't break up on cooking, making it an ideal fish to include in a richly flavoured fish stew. Poached in a garlicky fish stock with passatta, saffron, fennel and white wine, red mullet can be combined with squid and prawns and served with hunks of warm baguette and a glass of steely Chablis.