Most people associate mullet with either the cute 1980s hairdo or the schooling fish found along the coast.
But did you know that mullet is consumed globally?
If handled carefully and cooked to perfection, mullets are cherished.
Are Mullet Good To Eat? is a question I finally put to rest in this article.
Mullet is a very popular fish to eat all around the world despite having a bad reputation. The fish are frequently captured with large cast nets in the Southeast and either fried whole or smoked.
Mullets are extremely oily fish, which can result in a strongly “fishy” flavor, which contributes to their bad reputation.
But that doesn’t mean they are unhealthy to eat. Some seafood enthusiasts even enjoy the salty or fishy smell.
Additionally, mullet’s taste and perception are greatly influenced by the cooking technique. Before cooking, most fishermen bleed the fish, which can clean the meat and remove harsher flavors.
Of course, there are many other ways to prepare mullet as well. The two most common methods are slow smoking over hardwood or gutting and frying the fish whole with the fillets butterflied out.
Don’t overlook the mullet roe too, as adult mullets have roe sacs (eggs) that can be quite delectable. They can be cooked, smoked, or even made into the distinctive Bottarga meal.
Does mullet have the same mild flavor as tilapia, catfish, or sea bass fillets? No! But it shouldn’t because mullet has a very distinct flavor and taste.
Some people adore it, while others find it intolerable.
What is the flavor of mullet?
Compared to typical restaurant fish like grouper or snapper, mullet has a greater flavor character. It has a flavor that many people describe as being mossy, salty, or nutty because of the high oil content and darker meat.
The source of the mullet and the method of preparation can also significantly affect the flavor.
Mullet can be found in both freshwater and saltwater habitats along the coast, thus they frequently pick up flavors from their surroundings.
Because of this, mullet that are found in the ocean are frequently the cleanest and are primarily collected by commercial fishermen.
These fish migrate in and out of rivers, inlets, and estuaries throughout the year as they live near the waves and beaches (like the annual mullet run).
Compared to mullet taken in freshwater ponds, estuaries, or muddy areas, mullet collected in clean coastal saltwater settings will taste significantly better.
The reason why some claim that mullet tastes fishy.
Most fish’s flavor is a result of their surroundings, as well as what they eat.
In this instance, mullets eat tiny microbes and debris at the water’s surface and throughout the water column (plant and organic matter).
They digest muck, sludge, and larvae in their gizzards to extract nutrition. In other words, they’re not exactly searching for baitfish and fresh shrimp!
Because they are filter feeders with small mouths that are constantly sifting and searching along the sand, fish tend to have a fishy flavor. This is just how fish are.
Can You Eat Florida Mullet?
Eating mullet that has been fried or smoked is a long-standing custom along Florida’s gulf coast. The two species of mullet most frequently found on restaurant menus are striped and white mullet.
In reality, there is a thriving commercial mullet fishery in Florida where fishermen use big cast nets up to a length of 14 feet to follow schools of mullet and catch them in large numbers.
Following sorting, these fish are sold to fish markets, restaurants, and bait shops. Medium-sized mullets are used to bait crab traps, while small finger mullets are typically sold as bait.
The biggest mature mullet are utilized in big fish fries and festivals as well as sold to markets and restaurants for their roe.
Is Sea Mullet Healthy to Eat?
The family of fish known as Mugilformes mullet does not include sea mullet. Anglers in the Carolinas and Virginia refer to any type of kingfish as “sea mullet” and utilize that phrase (whiting).
The good news is that eating sea mullet or kingfish is safe.
What about the Grey Mullet?
Flathead mullet, which is tasty when cooked and prepared properly, is one of many mullet species that might be referred to as grey mullets.
Every country or culture in the globe has a unique manner of preparing mullets, and every species is edible.
Is Mullet from Salt Water Good to Eat?
Because saltwater mullets are typically located in clearer and cleaner water than freshwater mullets, they are favored to eat.
It’s also vital to remember that brackish water, which is saltier than freshwater but less salty than coastal saltwater, can support the existence of mullets.
Mullets migrate between freshwater, brackish, and saltwater (coastal) areas and are continually on the move.
Can finger mullet be eaten?
Instead of being consumed, finger mullets are typically utilized as live bait for fish predators including sharks, tarpon, redfish, snook, and jack crevalle.
Finger mullets are braised in oil and cooked whole in regions like Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean.
What Is The Best Mullet Recipe?
Mullet have several bones, making it challenging to fillet them like a typical fish.
The best way to prepare mullet is to cook it whole (with the head and internal organs removed) and then remove the flesh.
Here is how I cook and consume mullet:
Step 1: After capturing your mullet and before cleaning it, always bleed it first. Take off the head, guts, and scales (optional). The fish can then be butterfly-fileted or scored with a knife on the outside.
The objective is to “open” the fish up and expose as much meat as possible without removing any of the bones.
Step 2: Wash the fish in some freshwater in a bowl. To get rid of any blood and connective tissue, scrub the body cavity.
Make a brine next and submerge the fish in it (optional). Simple ingredients like water, salt, lemon, and old bay seasoning can be used for this.
Step 3: Decide on your culinary style! Mullet is most easily prepared by being battered and fried whole.
Use your preferred fish batter, then cook the fish until crispy in peanut oil. Serve alongside grits, salad, and hush puppies.
Another common preparation for the fish is to smoke it. The fillets can be crushed up and used to a mullet fish dip or smoked and consumed whole. There are many recipes online!
The best way to eat mullet is with your hands, picked off the bone, while enjoying a cold beer (or soda! ), good company, and a beautiful sunset. It is a shared fish.
Final Reflections about Are Mullet Good To Eat?
You’re missing something if you’ve never tried eating mullet. There are many opportunities to enjoy a delicious lunch because these underappreciated fish are highly plentiful and have generous bag limits.
Get outside, make a mess, clean it up, and try out your favorite cooking technique.