Bucatini with Red Mullet
Clean and prepare the fish before cooking the pasta.
Clean and wash the mullet well. Remove the heads and fishbones of the sardines, then cut into small pieces.
In a large saucepan, sauté the onion until golden brown in oil with the pressed garlic and sardines. Add the tomato sauce, a pinch of thyme, salt, and hot pepper. Cook for a few minutes.
Add the mullet to the sauce and cook for the minimum amount of time necessary (at most 2 minutes). Once cooked, remove the mullet from the sauce and set aside, making sure to keep it warm.
Finely chop the parsley and add to the sauce.
Cook the bucatini pasta. When cooked al dente, drain and toss it in the pan with the sauce.
Serve, with two mullets per plate.
Extremely popular since ancient times, mullet is abundant in warm and temperate ocean waters like the Mediterranean.
Consumption of this little fish with its tender, rosy meat and tantalizing aroma in the ancient Roman era assumed the reputation of being both fashionable and a vice. Rich Roman patricians sought out mullet of extraordinary dimension, paying thousands in sesterce (the ancient Roman coin) according to Juvenal, causing the emperor Tiberius to tax this fish frenzy in order to contain the excessive consumption.
Among its uses that have rendered this fish that is consecrated to the goddess Diana so popular was the method of keeping them in large basins and serving them, still alive, to observe their slow agony before cooking.
Apicius, also referred to as De re coquinaria(“On the Subject of Cooking”) from the 2nd Century A.D., describes a few recipes for dressing and preparing roasted mullet.
Still today, mullet – as part of a mixed seafood pasta specialty di scoglio – is considered an exquisite dish in the way it is prepared fresh with all edible parts intact. For its special characteristics, mullet is often defined as an “oyster catcher”.
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