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Best of Modern British Cookery
by Sarah Freeman
In the first edition of this book, I gave a recipe for grey mullet with lemon and pesto. Sadly, I have felt it advisable to substitute red mullet (which is in fact no relation) because the grey feeds in bays and estuaries which are now often polluted. Although in general the red favours warmer waters, it is found off the south coast of England and in the Channel in the summer.
This recipe is convenient in that you can make the sauce the previous day - which is virtually all you have to do. With the orange-red of the tomatoes and pink tints of the fish, the dish is also particularly decorative.
Serve with new potatoes and green beans, courgettes and/or broccoli. Allow 30 minutes or almost 30 minutes, for making the sauce and 10-12 for baking the fish.
For 4


    • About 4 oz (small handful) parsley
    • 1 Ib 2 oz ripe tomatoes
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 2 oz (2 medium to small) shallots
    • 1 tablespoonful oil
    • Scant teaspoonful dark brown sugar
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • 1 teaspoonful tomato paste
    • 2 lemons
    • 1 tin anchovy fillets in oil (9 fillets)
    • About 1 lb 6 oz  fresh or frozen red mullet, filleted


Trim the ends of bought parsley stems and wash the parsley. Shake off surplus moisture and leave it to dry on a plate lined with kitchen paper while you prepare and start to cook the sauce; then chop or mince it finely.
Peel and chop the tomatoes. Peel and finely chop the garlic and shallot. Fry the shallot over low heat for 3-4 minutes; add the garlic and fry for another minute or two.

Add the tomatoes, season with the sugar and moderately with salt and pepper, and cook for about 20 minutes, still over low heat, pressing the tomato flesh against the bottom of the pan to encourage it to dissolve. After about 20 minutes, it should have cooked fairly dry.

Add the tomato paste and cook or a moment or two; squeeze and add 1½ tablespoons of lemon juice. (If the lemons are juicy, you may need only one, but at least part of a second will be needed for cutting into wedges to serve with the fish.) Stir in the parsley and take the sauce off the heat. It should be quite chunky and firm.

If made in advance, leave It to cool, cover, and keep chilled.

Set the oven to 225°C, 425°F. Line a baking tray large enough for the fish with cooking foil.

Drain the oil from the anchovies, chop them finely, and stir them into the sauce. Wash and blot the fish dry Lay it on the tray cover each portion with sauce, and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Serve with wedges of lemon.

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