The red mullet is a small fish residing over the rocky or sandy seabeds of the Mediterranean and off the coast of Africa and the North Sea, and has been considered a delicacy since ancient times. The Romans were prepared to pay huge sums of money to gorge on its succulent flesh. This noble fish has earned its name from the attractive orange-red colour of its skin.
A delicate fish, it is best cooked ultra-fresh. With its refined, delicately flavoured flesh, red mullet is extremely versatile and equally at ease in the finest restaurants as at home as a midweek supper. It can be prepared in a variety of ways from grilled, to oven-baked in a foil parcel, oven-baked or pan-fried, and is traditionally served with white wine.
Olivier Boizet, Maitre Cuisinier de France* and chef at the fabulous Chateau de Champlong in Villerest (near Roanne – France), was more than happy to partake in a spot of food and wine pairing, together with sommelier Jean-Jacques Banchet, who recently retired from gourmet restaurant Troisgros in Roanne.
To accompany Olivier Boizet’s original recipe, Red Mullet fillet a la plancha, corzonera** 5 ways, red wine confit and oyster-leaf, Jean-Jacques Blanchet has devised a couple of interesting, original pairings with two RED wines from the Dourthe stable.
Selecting Château Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac for dedicated Saint-Emilion fans, he has not neglected any left bank devotees with Heritage de Le Boscq, second wine of Château Le Boscq, Cru Bourgeois, Saint-Estèphe.
* Maitre Cuisinier de France, or “master chef” is the highest accolade for chefs in France and awarded by the French government for excellence in the field of food preparation.
** Scorzonera is a root vegetable very similar to salsifi.
The dish is an explosion of many contrasting flavours: the red mullet’s succulent flesh enhanced by the red wine confit and savoury marine notes of the oyster leaf, harmonise well with the sweetness of the scorzonera. For the ultimate pairing, Jean-Jacques Banchet selects the Chateau Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac, Saint Emilion Grand Cru. The Merlot, which dominates the blend, delivers ripe fruit aromas, against a silky backdrop of integrated tannins. This is a wine as elegant and refined as Olivier Boizet’s culinary creation.
Next up, Jean-Jacques Banchet suggests Heritage de le Boscq, second wine of Chateau Le Boscq, Cru Bourgeois, Saint-Estephe. The wine launches with a bouquet redolent of luscious ripe fruit and a hint of delicate oak. Supple on the palate, it evolves with abundant finesse and rounded character, making a heavenly match with Olivier Boizet’s subtle red mullet creation.