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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The roe of the native fish can be used in many different ways

If the loaves and fishes tale had originated along this coast, chances are the fish would have been black mullet. Among the draws to this area as Anglo-Saxons moved into the peninsula almost 175 years ago were bays and rivers so full "wherever you look, they are leaping out of the water."

Surely, those leaping fish were black mullet, the species that has been a staple of Floridians since at least two decades before the Civil War.

A few weeks ago, I had a bit of fun discussing the Florida seasons. Maybe weather affects this species - or at least the harvesting or eating of them - more than any other.

The black and silver vegetarians spawn from early November into early January depending on cold fronts. Catch a mullet hen just before spawning, and you'll collect a bonus with the roe or egg sac.

In the coming weeks, local castnetters will be spreading their meshes in quest of roe mullet.

The yolk-yellow roe is sometimes labeled "Cracker Caviar" - with good reason. About 20 years ago, when the country was spurning chicken eggs because of cholesterol concerns, I contacted the University of Florida Extension Service, where a researcher was able to advise that, even though mullet eggs resembled the yolks of fowl, we could munch away without worry of what the roe might be doing to our arteries. Its principal contribution to nutrition was an extraordinary protein content.

It was the demand for mullet roe in Oriental markets which eventually brought commercial netting to a halt in Florida waters. Catching and selling the roe became such a lucrative endeavor, the species was being fished out.

The late Fred Hall, father of the Manatee County public ramp system and former vice president of Mercury Marine, had a recipe to preserve mullet roe where it could be used like salmon or sturgeon roe, but he died before I could talk him out of it.

One method of serving up this provincial delicacy is to scramble a quarter-pound or so with three or four hen eggs. Some mullet smokers can turn out a decent smoked roe.

Roy "Chick" Parker Jr., former Manatee County Outdoorsman of the Year and the man most responsible for creating Duette Park, turns out good smoked mullet roe. Mine never turned me on, but I do think my fried mullet roe will hold its own with anyone's.

Heavily salt the roe sacs, and pierce each sac with row upon row of holes using either a sharp tined fork or the tip of a knife. Allow these to sweat for 20 minutes or so while the salt draws out the moisture. If this step isn't taken, the heat will cause the moisture to expand and literally explode in the frying pan, showering you and your kitchen with hot oil. Incidently, the same trick will reduce spattering with chicken or turkey livers.

Once the beads have quit forming, wipe the sacs dry, roll in seasoned cornmeal and fry in a moderately hot skillet of cooking oil. The temperature should be 320 degrees rather than the 360 or higher used for fish filets. This will allow the roe centers to get completely done.

Eating partially cooked mullet roe can lead to a condition known as Cortez's Revenge, which is somewhat akin to Montezuma's Revenge.

The roe is ready when the center is dry and crumbly. Usually you can be satisfied the product is ready for the table when the outside is a deep brown rather than golden, as with the filets.

At our house, we enjoy squeezing a bit of lime juice on the roe, dousing it with hot sauce of one sort or another, and then munching.

There are those who deal with the spattering and guarantee doneness by par-boiling the sacs before breading and frying. I'll pass on that. The sacs take on a whitish-yellow cast and are rather unappetizing.

Some years ago, I saw a chef on a syndicated cooking show fry mullet roe, slice them paper thin, and serve with lime juice and some sort of salsa.

Wouldn't it be interesting for the swells of this world to take up mullet roe as a trendy repast?

Written by Jerry Hill outdoors writer.

Mullet Roe Extraction

Fried Mullet
Wash cleaned fish, which should be butterflied or filleted. Salt and pepper generously (in the South we use real salt and plenty of it). Roll in corn meal.

Fry in deep, hot peanut oil (350 degrees) for 3 to 5 minutes, turning if necessary or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Fish will be golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper.

Fish Fry Pointers:
Use a large, deep pan to avoid crowding fish. Turn fish once when crisp and golden. For fillets, brown skin side last. After frying, drain fish immediately on paper towels to remove fat.

Smoked Mullet (Serve with MulletFestival.com Hot Sauce)

5 pounds mullet butterfly fillets
(or 3 pounds Spanish mackerel fillets for those of you that can't get fresh mullet from Choctawhatchee Bay)
1 gallon water
1 pound hickory branches or chips
2 quarts water
1 cup salt

Make a brine solution by combining 1 gallon of water and salt (real salt). Stir until the salt is dissolved. Place the fish in the brine and let soak refrigerated for about 30 minutes.

Remove the fish from the brine; rinse thoroughly and dry.

If you live around Niceville, gather some dried hickory branches. If there isn't a hickory tree in your neighbor's yard, get yourself some of those store-bought hickory chips and soak them in 2 quarts of water for several hours or overnight. Keep the chips in a cool place to keep them from taking on a mildew or sour aroma.

To smoke fish, use a hooded or covered charcoal, electric or gas grill. The heat must be kept low. if using charcoal, fewer briquettes are necessary than for regular grilling. Cover charcoal or ceramic briquettes with approximately 1/3 of the wet chips. The wet chips provide lower temperatures and create smoke which flavors the fish. The remaining chips should be added as needed throughout the cooking process.

Place the butterflied fish or fish fillets, skin side down, on a well-greased grill approximately 4 to 6 inches from the smoking fire. Close the hood on the grill and open vent slightly to keep smoke and air circulating. Smoke fish approximately 1 hour at 150 degrees to 175 degrees, or for about 30 to 45 minutes at 200 degrees. The fish is done when the cut surface is golden brown and the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork. Makes six servings.

MulletFestival.com Hot Sauce (Serve with Smoked Mullet)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup prepared yellow mustard

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

3 teaspoons liquid hot pepper sauce

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Blend the honey and mustard; stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling. Makes approximately 1-1/2 cups. Serve with smoked mullet. Delicious!

1,208 Posts

Yep heard most of that regarding mullet ! I prefer using it for the fine bait that it is ;)

Best mullet (hardhead or popeye) recipe I've heard of involves a board and eating it :p Must have been an NC/VA thing.

Go figure and go fish,


1,057 Posts
Great info Kozlow.Thanks.

I sampled some smoked Mullet at Port Canaveral a couple years ago and thought it was GOOOOD. We allso sampled other fish...but the mullet seemed like the best.:p
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