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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Mulet and Mulet Dore on French Menus. Grey Mullet and Golden Grey Mullet, the Fish.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman 
Updated December 2018.
Golden Grey Mulllet

All members of the Mullet fish family are popular, but two stand out, the Grey Mullet and the Golden Grey Mullet. In the fishmongers, the most attractive will usually be the slightly smaller golden grey mullet; but you will not notice any difference in taste. Another two other members of the grey mullet family may be on the menu or on sale in the supermarket, or poissonnerie, a fishmonger, and they are also tasty fish. They are the Mulet à Grosse Tête, the Flathead Grey Mullet and the Mulet Lipp, the Thick-Lipped Grey Mullet.

Mulet and  Mulet Dore in France

These tasty fish have a soft white flesh and in France, the smaller fish, less than 700 grams (25 ounces), will mostly come from fish farms and they may be offered fried or grilled. Larger fish, caught near the entrance to rivers or at sea may weigh up to 5 kilos and will be served as filets. Usually, they will be baked or poached and served with a sauce. Muge and Muge Cabot are the Provençal names for grey mullet.  N.B. None of the grey mullet family have any relationship at all to the Rouget Barbet, the red mullet.  
Wild Grey Mullet photographed in the harbor.

The source of Boutargue or Poutargue

Boutargue  or Poutargue is the salted and dried roe of the grey mullet and a Provençal delicacy which some compare to caviar though apart from both being fish eggs, its taste is very different.  Boutargue has a flavorful concentrated taste, and you can savor the brine with a texture that is soft but can just be felt on your teeth.
Grey Mullet on French Menus:
Dos de Mulet Rôti – A large roasted cut from the back of a mullet.

Carpaccio de Mulet aux Oursins de Pleine Mer.-  A Mullet Carpaccio prepared with the edible part of sea urchins that have been brought in from the open sea. The only edible part of sea urchins is their roe, their eggs, which are firm but when eaten have a texture of scrambled eggs and a slightly salty taste.

Dos de Mulet Rôti aux Amandes- A thick cut from a grey mullet roasted with almonds.

The sea churning as dolphin hunt grey mullet.
Duo de Mulet et Saumon Gravlax Gnocchi et Sauce à l'Aneth  - a double serving of mullet and salmon gravlax, the gnocchi and fish are served with an aniseed-flavored sauce.
NB. Gravlax originated in Sweden and it is Atlantic salmon cured for three or four days in a nearly, but not quite, freezing combination of salt, sugar, pepper and dill and served sliced as thinly as possible. Gravlax has a taste somewhat similar to smoked salmon but with a different texture. Gnocchi are those 2 to 3 cm sized free-form pasta balls traditionally made in Italy with potato flour and seen on many pasta menus.  Gnocchi are also very popular in France and are made with a variety of recipes from the traditional potato flour to the lighter durum wheat flour.
Grey mullet on sale.
Filet de Mulet de Loire Beurre Blanc – A filet of grey mullet from the River Loire cooked in a butter sauce, this sauce is also called Beurre Nantaise.
Mulet Grillé Au Fenouil – Mullet grilled with fennel.

Tartare de Mulet de Mer et Huitre Végétale – A Tartar made with mullet caught at sea and served with the oyster plant.  The European oyster plant while looking nothing like an oyster does have an oyster taste in its green leaves.  It may be served or raw or cooked.
Un Filet Finement Émincé De Mulet Simplement Servi Cru, Mariné à l'Huile d'Olive, Sel de Guérande et Poivre Noir de Sarawak. A finely sliced filet of mullet  marinated in olive oil with the sea salt from Guerande and the black Sarawak pepper from Borneo in Malaysia.

The white-headed eagle drops his grey mullet lunch.
Grey Mullet and Golden Grey Mullet are generally considered a freshwater fish, but they are just as home in brackish water along the coast. France's Mediterranean Grey Mullet family are a favorite of anglers along the coast.

 The Grey Mullet in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan -  llissa llobarrera), (Durch -   diklipharder ), (German -  gewöhnliche meeräsche),  (Italian – cefalo, muggine), (Spanish -, llisa,mujol, mugil).

Golden Grey Mullet
Mulet Doré – Golden Grey Mullet, Golden Mullet; tasting much like grey mullet and cooked with the same recipes. This fish is smaller and rarely reaches 40 cms in length. With a very similar taste to its dull grey cousin, many of the same recipes will be used. Muge Doré and Muge-Durin are Provencal names for the Golden Grey Mullet.

Golden Grey Mullet on French Menus:

Filet de Mulet Doré  Crème à l'Ail. A filet of golden grey mullet prepared with a cream of garlic sauce.

Filet de Mulet Doré  Vapeur Purée de Topinambour aux Coques et Jus d'Un Fumet au Curcuma. A steamed filet of golden grey mullet served with a puree of Jerusalem artichoke, cockles, and a sauce made with the dish's cooking juices and turmeric. Cockles are small, popular member of the clam family. 
Le Mulet Dore à l'Huile D'olive, Ragoût de Legumes Oublies  - Golden Grey Mullet cooked in olive oil and served with a stew of heirloom vegetables

Hot smoking grey mullet

Mulet Doré Sur La Peau, Purée de Chou au Gingembre, Lentilles Beluga
- Golden grey mullet cooked in its skin and served with pureed cabbage flavored with ginger and accompanied by beluga lentils. These round lentils are, because of the color and shape often called caviar lentils. Most black lentils seen in France are imported from Canada as local production does not keep up with demand,

Filet De Mulet Doré Sur la Peau, Gnocchis De Pomme De Terre Gratinées Au Parmesan, Vierge de Févettes et Tomates Confits -  A filet of golden mullet cooked in its skin and served with potato flour gnocchis served browned under the grill with Parmesan cheese; all accompanied by raw fava beans and tomato confit.  NB. Raw Fava beans are not for everyone as they can badly affect people with a certain enzyme deficiency; be sure you know about your own exposure to uncooked fava beans.
Golden Grey Mullet in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(Catalan - galta-roig), (Dutch - goudharder ), (German –goldmeeräsche), (Italian - muggine dorato), (Spanish -  lisa dorada, alise).

The Thick Lipped Grey Mullet

Mulet Lippu, Bâtard Labre, Lissa, Muge Lippu, Muge à Grosses Lèvres, Mulet Lippu – The thick-lipped gray mullet, black mullet; it tastes like gray mullet and is cooked like gray mullet.  Occasionally, there is some confusion in the translations, and the name labre is also used for this thick-lipped gray mullet. Labre is used for the fish called wrasse or cuckoo wrasse, a very different fish and an essential ingredient in certain Provencal fish soups.

The Thick Lipped grey mullet will be served with the same recipes used for grey and golden grey mullet and may be served as great mullet; there will be no obvious difference in taste,

Thick Lipped Grey Mullet in the names of France’s neighbors.
(Catalan - llissa vera), (Dutch - diklippige harder), (German - dicklippen-meeräsche, meeräsche), (Italian – cefalo bosega, bosega, muggine), (Spanish – lisa , muble).

Flathead Grey Mullet.
Mulet à Grosse Tête, Muge Céphale, Muge Cabot,  Mulet jaune - Flathead grey Mullet, Sea Mullet, Striped Mullet, Black Mullet – This member of the family is a sub-tropical fish and so is caught in the Mediterranean. It will be on the menu as Grey Mullet or with the same recipes.
Flathead grey mullet
Illustration from The Natural History of British Fishes (1802) by Edward Donovan (1768-1837).

Flathead Grey Mullet in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(Catalan - llissa llobarrera), (Dutch -     diklipharder), (German - gewöhnliche meeräsche), (Italian – cefalo, mùggine), (Spanish – céfalo).
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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
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