From Restaurant to Home: Neil Forbes Red Mullet with Fennel Recipe

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

Neil Forbes is the Chef Director at Café St. Honoré. Located down a cobbled lane in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town, this fantastic little French café has all the exquisite delights of good food. The kitchen’s secret is simple. Good, fresh, local produce. This means the á la carte menu changes daily to reflect the seasonal options, and it is backed up with a Café Classics menu.

The kitchen has a ‘Slow Food’ philosophy, meaning they get all their supplies and produce locally which in turn supports the local economy and reduces food miles.

The restaurant has won several awards over the years and with a chef director who is one of Scotland’s most passionate chefs, it is little wonder. This small restaurant has a big foothold within the industry as it leads the way in sustainability. Here at Taste Scotland, we are excited to get exclusive recipes with Neil Forbes and bring the Café St. Honoré to your home.

Red Mullet with Fennel

A delicious and easy to prepare recipe for summer days.

A few tips before you start:

- Although this is relatively easy to cook, be aware the ingredients and measurements are precise and cannot be easily substituted.

- Keep a close eye when cooking the vegetables so as not to overcook

- Make sure to ask your local fishmonger and double check the fillet has been pin-boned (whereby all the tiny, fine pin bones have been removed).

Serves: 2 people

Cooking time: 40 minutes; prep time: 20 minutes


2 fillets fresh red mullet, skin on, pin-boned and scaled 1 good-sized fennel bulb, peeled and quartered 2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped 1/2 carrot, peeled and diced small 1/2 stick celery, peeled and diced small 1 shallot, peeled and diced small 6 coriander seeds, lightly crushed in a pestle and mortar A few strands of saffron Juice of half a lemon 1 tablespoon good white wine vinegar or cider vinegar 100ml extra-virgin olive oil for the vegetables and sauce + 1 extra tbsp for cooking fish Good salt and pepper 1 bay leaf 1 teaspoon chopped parsley or chives

Cooking method:

‘Blanch’ the fennel until just soft (4 to 5 minutes) in a pot of boiling, salted water.

Heat a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil in a clean pan on a moderate hob. Fry the shallots, carrots, garlic and celery for 2 to 3 minutes until all the veg are starting to soften and just about to colour.

Then stir in the fennel, coriander seeds, bay leaf, saffron, vinegar, lemon juice and the remaining extra-virgin olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper and leave to simmer with a lid on for 30 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked and flavoursome. Be careful not to overcook and dry the vegetables out!

Add the oil for frying to a hot, non-stick frying pan. Ensure the fish is dry and the surface of the pan is covered with oil before gently placing the fish into the pan. Do this slowly, laying the fish skin-side-down, away from you so as not to splash. Cook with a little salt and pepper for 2 to 3 minutes, then turn the fish over, remove the pan from the heat and season again.

To serve artistically like a restaurant, season the fennel dish one last time and stir through the fresh parsley or chives. To arrange onto plates, spoon the sauce over the fennel before placing the fish alongside. Dress with a squeeze of lemon and serve at once.

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