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Brazil


Smoked Mullet

 

1. The Fish

- Common name: Mullet
- Scientific Name: Mugil platanus
- Fishing season:
May to July
- Minimum size for fish: 35cm
- Minimum distance to shore: 5 miles for industrial fishing in the states of Santa Catarina, Brazil
- Characteristics: A salt-water fish, which is oily and has a white meat.

 

2. Fishing and Tradition

Mullet is abundant in the southern and eastern waters of Brazil, and its fishing is of great importance to the livelihood of fishing communities. From May to July, the fish leaves the cold waters of Argentina and Rio Grande do Sul and moves towards the coast of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.


Many fishing communities exist around Florianópolis, the island capital of Santa Catarina, and fishing and fish processing is an important part of the local economy. The mullet season opens in autumn, when groups of people use long nets along the shoreline to catch shoals as they come in close. This artisan fishing tradition was bought to the region by the Portuguese Azorean families who settled on the island in the 18th century.


However, industrial fishing is responsible for almost 60% of the total catch and only 6% of mullet is fished using traditional methods. Small-scale fisheries are disappearing as fast as industrial fleets increase: the shoals are being fished along their migratory route and far fewer fish reach close to the shore to be caught by small fishers.

 

The mullet is also important to the local culture and is the focus of several folk festivals. When the shoals arrive at the local beaches, it is a time of celebration and joy in the fishing villages, and the catch is shared among the locals, sold on local markets and prepared in many typical dishes.

 

The mullet is also important to the local culture and is the focus of several folk festivals. When the shoals arrive at the local beaches, it is a time of celebration and joy in the fishing villages, and the catch is shared among the locals, sold on local markets and prepared in many typical dishes.



3. The Event:

Slow Food Sabor Selvagem (Wild Taste) organized a lunch in May 2010 to pair locally caught mullet with regional and indigenous products from family farms. The following mullet recipe was created exclusively for the event, and uses both classical and contemporary cooking methods.


4. The recipe: Smoked Mullet Confit

Ingredients (per person)

150 g mullet
1/2 lemon
 Half Tbs salt
orange and lemon leaves
1 Tbs each of basil, nutmeg, black and white pepper, garlic, juniper
Handful of wood shavings
enough olive oil to cover the fish in the tray
For the accompanying dishes: 1/2 onion sliced, sesame seeds, 50g cassava (manioc), 10g persimmon pulp, 10g fresh coconut flesh, basil and 10g brazil nut.

 

Method

1. Fillet the mullet, leaving the skin on, and marinate the fish in water, lemon and salt for 15 minutes.
2. Smoke the mullet fillets with the orange and lemon tree leaves, basil, nutmeg, black and white pepper, garlic, juniper, harpsichord and wood shavings. To smoke the fish you can use a barbecue grill. Just mix the spices, leaves and woodchips and then burn them slowly to produce smoke and embers - no big flames. The fish must be covered (with an upside down stainless steel bowl if your bbq doesn't have a lid) in order to keep the smoke in.
3. Place the fish in baking pans, and cook the smoked fillets in extra virgin olive oil (confit) with basil stalks and minced garlic at 65°C for one hour, taking care to ensure the temperature does not rise higher.
4. Serve the fish on a bed of onion sautéed with sesame seeds and salt, and top it with a few cassava chips - thin slices of cassava (manioc), fried until crispy and golden.
5. Two sauces are recommended to accompany the fish: an olive oil and persimmon pulp emulsion (just mix the pulp and slowly add olive oil), and a pesto sauce made with fresh coconut flesh, basil and brazil nut, all macerated in mortar and pestle or electric food processor.

The Smoked Confit Mullet lunch was organized by Slow Food Sabor Selvagem with support from Serra Catarinense Araucaria Nut Presidium, Tourism Secretary for Urussanga, Goethe Grape and Wine Producers Association, Urussanga Winery Mazon, Del Nonno Winey, Pousada Vale dos Figos inn and Engenho da Farinha flour mill.


For more information:
bernardo.gastronomia@gmail.com


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