Livorno-style red mullet

Cook & Prep Time

50 min



Livorno-style red mullet

Red mullet is one of the most delicious of the Mediterranean fishes – and this is a classic recipe from Livorno, renowned known for its seafood and beautiful Renaissance-era fortifications!


  • 4 red mullet, whole – if you ask the fishmonger to fillet them ask for the fillets not to be
  • separated and for the heads and bones for the sauce
  • 100g fine semolina
  • 2 round ripe tomatoes
  • sunflower oil, to fry the red mullet fillets
  • parsley, chopped
For the sauce
  • 300g canned organic whole peeled tomatoes, crushed or pureed in a blender
  • the red mullet heads and bones, see above
  • 1 cup of vegetable stock
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • a few parsley stalks
  • 1/3 glass of white wine
  • extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • a few sprigs of basil
  • salt and pepper


If the fish is not cleaned, scale the red mullets and cut off the heads. Remove the innards and with a small sharp knife, fillet the fish starting from the head and stopping half an inch from the tail, taking care not to separate the two fillets. Remove the central bone still attached to the tail, using scissors to cut it off and remove the pin bones with tweezers. Dry with a paper towel.
Keep the head and fish bones to one side for the sauce.

Dip the red mullet fillets in the semolina and fry in sunflower oil at 170C until they are golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels and salt immediately.

Blanch the fresh tomatoes in boiling salted water, cool in iced water, peel, quarter, deseed and cut into cubes. Put them in a bowl and dress with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped parsley.

For the sauce

Wash the bones and heads under plenty of running water and remove the gills, drain.

In a saucepan, sauté the garlic and parsley stalks in a little extra virgin olive oil, add the bones and heads and toast until they fall apart. Add the white wine and let it evaporate, then filter the stock to eliminate all the bones and heads of the red mullet.

Combine the filtered fish stock, vegetable stock and the organic crushed or pureed tomatoes. Add the basil, leaving aside a few leaves for the garnish. Cook the sauce for 20 minutes.

To serve, pour a ladle of sauce on each plate and then place the red mullet fillets on top. Spoon the cubed fresh tomatoes on top and garnish with a few leaves of basil.