Grey mullet with oyster stuffing

Serves 2

I've lifted this recipe from my mate Mitch Tonk's new book fish. Mitch lives in Brixham overlooking the harbour and has his pick of the local fish market for the menu in his restaurant in nearby Dartmouth. Mitch shares my view on grey mullet (or what I sometimes call silver mullet); yes, it can taste a bit on the muddy side when it has spent a lot of time in estuaries and rivers, but when the fish have spent time and are caught in the sea their taste is on a par with sea bass.

25g butter, plus extra for greasing
1 small shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Half a celery stick, finely chopped
2 rashers of smoked bacon, rind removed and roughly chopped
150g cooked spinach
1tbsp finely chopped mint
1tbsp finely chopped parsley
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
4 oysters, shucked, reserving the juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of Worcestershire sauce, to taste
1 egg yolk
2 grey mullet, about 350g each, or 1 larger one, scaled and gutted
Olive oil for rubbing

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6 and butter a roasting tray.

To make the stuffing, melt the butter in a frying pan, add the shallot, garlic and celery and fry gently until soft and golden.

Place the fried shallot mixture in a food processor with the bacon, spinach, herbs and breadcrumbs and juice from the oysters and pulse for a minute until a coarse stuffing mixture forms. Season with salt and pepper and add Worcestershire sauce to taste. Add the egg yolk and mix well. If the mixture is a little wet, add more breadcrumbs, but if it is a little dry just add a drop of water. Add the whole oysters to the stuffing and mix in by hand.

Lay the fish on the prepared roasting tray and fill the belly cavity with the stuffing, making sure there are 2 oysters in each fish.

Season the fish and rub all over with olive oil, then bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes. This is wonderful served with a salad of little gem lettuces dressed with red wine vinegar, oil and shallots.

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