Sea Mullet

Mugil cephalus

Other names: Bully mullet, hardgut mullet, hardgut river mullet, mangrove mullet, poddy mullet, river mullet.

Family: Mugilidae (mullets).

Description:

The largest Australian Mullet, it can be distinguished from other Mullets by the transparent gelatinous eyelid covering most of the eye. Available wild-caught, it is a free swimming mainly estuarine fish, sometimes found in freshwater, and also in coastal waters as it moves out to sea from April-July to spawn. Found around the entire coast, it is mainly caught off beaches in Queensland, NSW and WA, using set and surround nets.

Season: Available year round with peaks from January to May.

Size and Weight: Commonly 500g-1.5kg and 30-45cm, but can grow to at least 80cm and 8kg.

Price: Low priced, with ocean-run fish higher priced than those caught in estuaries.

Relations:

Other Mullets include: Bluespot, Bluetail, Broadmouth, Broussonnet's (often confused with Sea Mullet), Diamond, Diamondscale, Fantail, Fringelip, Goldspot Greenback, Hornlip, Kanda, Otomebora, Pinkeye, Popeye, Rock, Roundhead, Sand, Spiegler's, Wartylip and Yelloweye. Red Mullet, a member of the Mullidae family, is not a Mullet, but a Goatfish.

To Buy:

Usually sold as skinned fillets, though also available whole (gilled and gutted). In whole fish look for lustrous skin, firm flesh, and a pleasant, fresh sea smell. In fillets, look for pink-reddish brown firm, lustrous, moist flesh without any brown markings or oozing water and with a pleasant fresh sea smell.

To Store:

Make sure whole fish is scaled, gilled, gutted and cleaned thoroughly (remove stomach lining and any fat along the stomach wall). Wrap whole fish, or fillets in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months below -18ºC.

To Cook:

Average yield is 45%. Has a strong flavour, oily and moist, soft-medium textured flesh with few bones, which are easily removed (highest in oil from April-July during migration). It is best to remove the skin, as well as the fatty tissue immediately under the skin, to give a milder flavour. Completely remove the lining of the stomach cavity and scrape away any fat along the cavity wall.

Cooking Methods:

Bake, grill, barbecue, smoke (especially roe and milt, which are highly-prized in Japan), pickle. The strong-flavoured flesh works well in fish pastes and pâté.

Goes well with:

Balsamic vinegar, caraway, chermoula, citrus, cumin, curry pastes, garlic, fennel, fenugreek, ginger, herbs (such as coriander, dill, oregano, rosemary, sage, French tarragon, thyme), mushrooms, olive oil, olives, onion, tamarind, tomato, vinegar, wine, and other strong flavours.

Alternatives:

Other Mullets, Australian Salmon, Eel, Pilchard, Shark Mackerel, Tailor, Trevally.

Imports:

None (due to its low price).

Recipes:

Barbecued Chermoula Mullet Fillets > 
Smoked Mullet Pâté >
Barbecued Yelloweye Mullet on Kaffir Lime Leaf >