Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rouget Barbet and Rougets de Roche, Red Mullet and Striped Red Mullet, the Fish on French Menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Last updated February 2017
Red Mullet.
Photograph courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library.
Rouget Barbet, Rouget de Vase  - Red Mullet.
Red mullet, like their cousins the striped red mullet are excellent eating. Their names are often confused but do not worry about that; in a blind tasting, I could not tell the difference between these two tasty fish.  Their names are confused in many more languages than just English and French. These are relatively small fish; most are caught when between 15 to 20 cm long (6” – 8”) and weighing 200 to 300 grams. At this size, they may be served whole, but they are only rarely fileted when served as an entrée, the French starter. Larger sizes, about 400 grams and 25 cm (10”)  are too large for a single serving and will be served fileted; however, I think they taste better when they are smaller and grilled whole.  Fileting this fish is very simple, with a touch or your knife or fork the white to light-pink meat just about falls off the bones.
Red mullet will be on many menus.
Filets de Rouget-Barbet au Fenouil, Crème de Safran – Fillets of red mullet prepared with fennel and served with a cream of saffron sauce.

Grilled Fillets of Red Mullet, Wild Garlic and Crayfish Risotto, Buttered Local Sea Kale
Photograph courtesy of su-lin.

Filet de Rougets Barbet Juste Cuisson, Pommes Parisiennes Rôties -  A filet from a red mullet, lightly cooked and served with roast potato balls.

Rouget-barbet Marinée - Marinated red mullet

Rouget Barbet, Moules de Bouchot – Red mullet served with France’s unique small mussels.
Rouget Barbet Rôti Jus de Rhubarbe au Curcuma – A whole red mullet roasted in rhubarb juice and turmeric.
Filet de rouget barbet et sépions à la plancha rôti,
petits pois et foie d’oie, jus d’oignons et carottes glacées
Filet of red mullet roasted on a plancha with baby cuttlefish, accompanied by petit pois peas, fattened goose liver, onion juice and glazed carrots.
Photograph courtesy of Inspirational Food.
Tarte Fine de Filet de Rouget Barbet, Lit d'épinards frais, Tapenade d'Olives Noires. A tarte fine is a thin, flat, round, disk, usually made with puff pastry; here it cooked with a filet of red mullet on top, all served on a bed of fresh spinach and accompanied by a black olive tapenade.  A tapenade is an anchoïade made with added capers for a little bit of spice, and an anchoïade is a Provencal anchovy based spread created together with olives and garlic.

Red mullet with fennel, asparagus, olive and escabeche foam.
Photograph courtesy of ulterior epicure.
Red Mullet in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan - moll de fang),(German – meerbarbe), (Italian – triglia di fango), (Spanish - salmonete de fango). 
The red mullet and its closely related cousin the striped red mullet both come from the goat-fish family. Having been given the goat-fish name three-hundred years ago I am sure it was quickly realized that the market would need a better name.  Even after the red mullet and striped red mullet were given saleable names confusion still exists. There are other mullets; however, apart from swimming in the sea and often being on the same menus, the red mullet and striped red mullet have absolutely no connection to the gray mullet and that mullet family.

Red Mullet in other languages:
(Chinese (Mandarin) - ), (Danish - rød mulle), (Egyptian - soltan ibrahim ramly),  (Greek – kουτσομούρα - koutsomoura ), (Hebrew – barbunia, sultan ibrahim, mulit adduma –מוּלִית הַפַּסִים  ברבוניה , סולטן איברהים, מולית אדומה ),   (Portuguese - salmonete da vasa), (Russian - султанка черноморская), (Swedish - rödmulle ), (Turkish - barbunya balığı).(Latin -mullus barbatus barbatus ). 

Rougets de Roche, Rouget-barbet de Roche –
Striped Red Mullet, Surmullet.

Striped red mullet are a slightly larger fish from the red mullet family and  they are prepared just like their cousins the red mullet. The taste and texture of the striped red mullet and red mullet are very similar and you may as well choose one as the other.
Striped red mullet.
Photograph Phillipe Guillaume.
Rougets de Roche en Nage d'Anis Étoilé – Striped red mullet cooked in its own juices flavored with star anise. Star Anise is the star-shaped aniseed flavored fruit of the Chinese Anis plant.  Star Anise came to France with trade,  and then became even more well known when Napoleon III began France’s unfortunate ventures in South-East Asia, today’s Vietnam. 
Rouget de Roche, Chou Rave et Poireaux, Vinaigrette à l’Orange et Cressons – Striped red mullet served with kohlrabi (swedes) and leeks alongside a watercress orange vinaigrette.
Filets de Rouget de Roche des Sables-d'Olonne Croustillants – Crisply cooked filets of striped mullet. The fish was caught off the Atlantic seaside town of Sables-d’Olonne in the department of Vendée in the Pays du Loire. The town of Sables-d'Olonne is a favorite holiday town for the French who loves its sandy beaches.  The town has a population of 17,000; however, in the summer holiday season that may reach 100,000. If you want to book a hotel there you had better make your reservation for for three or four years ahead! The town began as a fishing village and now apart from tourism is the eighth largest fishing port in France; that is a very active fishing port. As may be expected the fish caught of the coast of Sables-d'Olonne are considered superior to others and on local menus their provenance will be made known.
Rouget deRoche en escabèche et légumes printaniers
à l'émulsion de Chardonnay
Striped red mullet serves as an escabèche, with spring vegetables and a thick Chardonnay wine sauce.
Photograph courtesy of the Hotel de la Paix Geneve
Filets de Rouget de Roche Risotto de Fruits de Mer au Pistou – Striped red mullet filets served with a seafood risotto and flavored with pistou. Pistou is the French take on the Italian pesto, they are the same.
 Striped red mullet  and red mullet are much more popular in France that the UK. Probably some 70% of these fish when caught by European fishermen and women will end up on French restaurant menus, or on the table in French homes.
Striped red mullet in the language of France’s neighbors:
 (Catalan -  molla de roca, roger), (Dutch - koning van de poon ),(German – meerbarbe, streifenbarben), (Italian – triglie, triglie di scoglio, triglia rossa ), (Spanish -  salmonetes de roca), 
Striped red mullet in other languages:

(Arabic - طرستوج الصّخرة، سمك السّلطان سليمان الصّخريّ), (China (Mandarin) 纵带羊鱼 - ), (Corsican - yreglia di scogliu), (Croatian - barbun), ((Danish - Stribet mulle), (Dutch - koning van de poon), (Filipino – mulus), (Finish- mullo), (Irish Gaelic - an milléad dearg),(Greek – Μπαρμπούνι, mparmpouni), (Hebrew - barbunia, ,ברבוניה, mulit happassim  ),(Norwegian – mulle) , (Polish –barwena), (Portugues - salmonete-legítimo), Russian - султанка средиземноморская- barabulja), (Turkish - tekir balığı)  (Ukrainian – barabulya), (Latin - mullus surmuletus).Translations courtesy of Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2014. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication., version (08/2014).

Bryan G Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2014, 2017.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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