September 2017
Your Next Meal From the Wildside

Fresh Caught Mullet

Fried, smoked or in a chowder, this bounty of the Gulf Coast is well-worth the time and effort.

Mullet is a popular fish that is found around the globe, but in the Southeast the adult fish can be found in the Atlantic and the Gulf Coast by the end of August. Although you can spend a lot of money on fishing equipment, mullet can be relatively inexpensive to harvest as long as you have patience.

They are attracted to different kinds of lures. One time they may go after a more expensive artificial bait, but then they may also try to snatch a lump of bread from a hook.

Mullet tend to stay in groups and can be easily spotted when they jump out of the water near the shorelines, bays and mouths of rivers leading into the Gulf. While hook and line can be used, many fishermen make their catch by cast net. Jason has tried both and prefers using a throw net. In the bays or mouth of a river in brackish water, you can slowly troll over to where you see them jumping. Then cast your net from the front of the boat.

This sounds easy, but remember I said it takes patience. Jason says casting for mullet calls for throwing the net and pulling it back in … again and again. According to the Alabama Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the recreational bag limit for mullet is 25 per person per day or 25 per boat. Harvesting that many fish in a day would require a lot of casting and a ton of luck. However, sometimes you may cast just a few times and have the bag limit.

A couple of times a year, family friend Daniel McGhee, a crab fisherman from Cedar Key, Florida, brings a cooler full of mullet to share when he, his friends and family come to hunt in our area. Jason says they keep it simple when it is time to cook. The mullet is filleted like catfish or bass, coated with Louisiana Fish-Fry, and deep-fried or pan-fried. They take the main part of the backbone, coat it with fish-fry and fry those, too, so the cooks have something to nibble on while waiting for the fillets to cook.

Fresh-caught mullet is best when fried within two days, but after that Jason smokes them over a hickory stick in a smoker. Smoked mullet can be vacuum sealed and used later for dip. The average size of an adult mullet is 1-3 pounds, but there are bigger ones out there. The recipes I am sharing with you require 1-2 pounds of mullet.

For more information about regulations for mullet, you can visit these websites: http://www.outdooralabama.com/creel-and-size-limits and http://myfwc.com/Fishing/Saltwater/Recreational.

 

FRIED MULLET FINGERS

Cooking oil, for frying
2 pounds mullet fillets
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
Lemon slices

In a deep fryer or deep saucepan, heat oil to 375°. Cut fillets into 4- to 5-inch strips. In a bowl, combine salt, pepper, flour, cornmeal and cayenne. Mix well. Dredge fish in mixture to coat. Deep fry fish for 4-5 minutes until fish is golden brown. Drain on paper towel. Serve with lemon slices.

 

SMOKED MULLET DIP

1 pound smoked mullet
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice, more if needed
Pinch paprika
Ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup green onions, finely chopped

Remove any bones and skin from smoked fish. Flake fish with a fork.

In a food processor, combine cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, paprika and black pepper. Pulse until mixture is creamy. Add more lemon juice or sour cream to taste. Place the mixture in a bowl and fold in the mullet and green onions. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Courtesy of Gwen and Steve Kirk

 

MULLET CHOWDER

1½ pounds mullet fillets, skin off
4 strips bacon, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (10½ ounce) can cream of potato soup
1 cup bottled clam juice or chicken broth
2 cups whole milk
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 Tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 cup white potatoes, cooked and diced
1 (15¼ ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

Cut mullet fillets into chunks and set aside. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, fry bacon until light brown. Add onions. Cook until onions are soft. Add celery and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in soup, clam juice, milk, Worcestershire sauce, pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Mix in potatoes and corn. Add mullet. Stir. Bring to a boil. Simmer until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

 

SMOKED MULLET WITH HOE CAKES

1 large split smoked mullet, meat removed from bones
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup cornbread mix
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon honey
1/3 cup water
¾ cup buttermilk
¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for cooking
1 pound coleslaw (your own recipe or try the citrus slaw included)
1 cup BBQ sauce
Salt and ground pepper, to taste

Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, cornbread mix, eggs, honey, water, buttermilk and oil. Mix ingredients to combine. Add small amount of vegetable oil to the preheated sauté pan. Add 2 tablespoons at a time of batter to pan in various spots. Cook cakes on each side for 2 minutes or until crispy. Repeat this process until all the batter is cooked. Place 2 hoe cakes on a plate, top with slaw and mullet. Serve.

 

CABBAGE AND CITRUS SLAW

½ large head cabbage, shredded fine
2 oranges, segmented
1 grapefruit, segmented
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
½ red bell pepper, sliced thin
¼ cup olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
Salt, to taste
Ground pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well. Let marinate in refrigerator for an hour. Taste slaw and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve chilled.

Note: A delicious side to go with mullet.

 

Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.