Red mullet are found worldwide in tropical and subtropical waters, often in the vicinity of coral reefs. They belong to a large family and different kinds of mullet are to be found in the Mediterranean, as well as in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific ocean.
Red mullets are ground dwellers and they live in small groups, often accompanied by several species of fish. The main feature of the red mullet is a pair of chin barbels which ressemble a goatee ; hence the English denomination 'goatfish’. These whiskerlike sensory organs are used to probe the seabottom in search of food. The red mullet is reddish pink in colour and has the ability to rapidly change its colour pattern depending on its surroundings or activity. This rather small fish that can grow up to 30-40 cm in length. Red mullet is an economically important species which is widely exploited all over the world.
Red mullet was already very much appreciated and considered as a delicacy by the ancient Romans. The firm and creamy fishmeat is delicately but distinctly flavoured. The skin that lends its specific taste to the meat needs to be scaled and the small bones should be removed. Red mullet is a versatile fish, very popular in the Mediterranean cuisine. It suits simple cooking methods particularly well. For beautifully cooked fillets, simply fry skin-side down, in a hot pan with olive oil until the skin is crisp. This pretty oily fish is also perfect for sashimi and can be used instead of tuna and salmon.