Marinated Red Mullet (Μαριναρισμένο-μπαρμπούνιa)

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One of the most prized fish with Greeks has to be the red mullet. It’s popular for it’s colour, it’s ease in cleaning and it’s flavour.

Red mullets are a smaller fish and usually you’ll need two of them per person. I’ve been lucky enough to find them at my local fish monger and hey…they were fresh, they were affordable. Who knows how long it will be until I find them again?

Many Greeks enjoy red mullet fried and I asked my mom about this and she concurred…”there’s something about Barbounia (red mullet) and frying them up…they become something magical.”

So most of you know, I’m a big fan of grilled fish so frying up a fish is going out on a limb for me but boy, am I glad I followed through.

First off…crispy skin. When the skin of a fish is crisped up…it’s like bacon of sea….really. Secondly, the meat of the fish is flaky but firm, kind of like salmon but much milder.

In Greek cookery…marinating seems to take on a couple of different meanings: it could be that something is left to marinate in a compound prior to cooking to infuse flavour or in this case, the compound is poured over the fish after cooking. Both methods are labeled as “mαριναρισμένο”.

After looking at several red mullet recipes, I’ve noticed that this fish was paired with orange alot and I liked this. The fruit sounds like a good match for this orange/red coloured fish.

I’ve adapted this recipe from Gourmed and I’ve incorporated oranges into the mix. This recipe was an experiment and a successful one at that. I was intoxicated by aroma of the rosemary and fresh orange juice hitting the just fried fish.

I’m offering up a recipe for four fish, which was for two. Do the math and multiply the ingredients if serving others. Please note, a non-stick pan was used here as I didn’t want any chance of half my fish remaining in the skillet.

Finally, don’t forget the crusty bread. The sauce that accompanies this fish was sopped up with delight.

Marinated Red Mullet
(for 2)

4 red mullets, scaled & gutted
olive oil
2 tsp. fresh rosemary
2-3 Tbsp. of good red wine vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
juice of 1/2 orange
flour for dredging

  1. After scaling and gutting your fish, sprinkle some sea salt on them and allow the fish to sit for an hour. Rinse the fish and pat dry.
  2. Season some flour with salt and pepper and dredge your fish and shake off any excess flour.
  3. Pour your oil (about 1/2 centimetre high) into a large non-stick pan and add your oil over medium-high heat. After about three minutes, place your fish in the pan and fry for about four minutes a side. Fry in batches and keep warm in the oven.
  4. Using the same pan over medium heat (you may add more olive oil), add your rosemary and vinegar and simmer for a couple of minutes while gently swirling the pan.
  5. Add the garlic, a good squeeze of fresh orange juice (about half an orange) and simmer for 1 more minute. Adjust seasoning (more vinegar or more juice and salt to taste).
  6. Pour the hot marinade over your warm red mullets and serve immediately with some new potatoes and a seasonal salad. Oh yeah…don’t forget the crusty bread!

© 2008 – 2010,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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32 Comments for “Marinated Red Mullet (Μαριναρισμένο-μπαρμπούνιa)”

Sam Sotiropoulos


Red mullet is definitely one of my faves! Nice work! Looks like somebody’s getting ready for fish in Greece… ;)

Peter G


My mum often fries barbounia as well, always citing that the pan is the best place for them to cook. Great sauce you paired them with. The orange and rosemary is a classic combination.

Zen Chef


Oh me love red mullet! Not always available around here either. Nice take on it. Lucky you!



Oh yumm! Now this is an interesting twist on fish…. You mean you can buy it with the head, tail & skin still on it?!?! OK, I’m totally joking, but I’ve never bought it that way. I’ll have to try it one of these days. This looks really, really good.

xoxox Amy



Nothing wrong with a little fry now and then. I’m curious because you described the skin as “bacon of the sea”.

Mochachocolata Rita


i always see these red babies staring at me in the market but never bought em…look like a must try :)



This sounds like a really nice recipe! I don’t think I’ve ever seen red mullet around here before. I think the ones we get are called striped mullet. Not nearly as pretty as yours!



HAHAHA! You scared me with the title…I thought you were posting something about a hair treatment to rid oneself of the dreaded mullet. ;) Seriously, though, Peter, this looks just delicious…I love that you serve fish whole…the way it’s meant to be. :D



Bacon of the sea – love it – and that’s exactly why I always pan fry fish!

Well, that and because I don’t have a grill… :(



Fresh fish eaten outdoors, that’s about as close to heaven as you can get.



My grandma would always make savoro with gopes (γοπες). It was delicious! Orange is such a classic combination for mullet. Try it with vanilla too, for a more unexpected result!

P.S. I am having barbounia tonight in my favourite fish tavern..Hurray!

Happy cook


I love fish made like this, they are easy to make and delicious.
Are you trying to make us drool by explaining how you mopped up all that delicious sauce :-)



I have never had red mullet. Apparently I have missed out. Fabulous looking dish, Peter.

Peter M


Sam, I’ve been ready for awhile…is it August yet?

Pete, it seems the mothers’ wisdom is correct…red mullet fried rocks!

Zen, today I might cook with another Mediterranean fish both French and Greeks love…stay tuned.

Amy, whole fish is superior because you can inspect it’s freshness before buying.

Hi Rose & Thorn, welcome! Fresh fish outdoors with friends and wine…Ummm.

Ioanna, Gopes are great…none here but I’ll eat some in Greece this summer. Enjoy your dinner this evening, we expect your full report!

Happy, just reminding you all to mop-up!

Kim, it’s a divine fish…if you see it, order or buy it.

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining


We tried frying snapper a little bit agao and it turned out great we used the lemon/herb mix. It would be really, really good with orange!!! Can’t wait to try this!



Geia sou Peter me ta oraia sou:))
Red mullet, my favourite!!
Are your ready for holidays stin patrida, with fresh fish, good wine, good friends, swimming etc etc???

michelle @ TNS


this is the latest in a bunch of yummy red-mullet-requiring recipes i’ve run across lately, but i can never find the damn mullet in stores!


Patricia Scarpin


I don’t think I have already eaten a red mullet. Your fish dishes always look amazing, Pete!

Bellini Valli


I am feeling left out because I have never had red mullet. Maybe someday:D



L;ove this dish Peter,look really wonderful and the pictures of the mullets beauty! x Gloria

Lulu Barbarian


OMG, you can get barbounia! I’ve never seen it here in California, and I’d trade an awful lot of our produce for some fresh barbounia. I’d even put up with some snow.

Ah, I probably sound envious, so ftoo ftoo ftoo on you and your barbounia, Peter. Nice job with it, by the way.



I would serve this with a nice shaved
fennel and goat cheese salad. And haha you got spammed! :D

Frying daunts me too, but if you can do it, so can I!



Sadly, I’ve never seen mullet on this side of the continent. Yours looks fantastic!

Peter M


Judy, I can always trust you to do a fish right.

Jessica, it was a wonderful surprise.

Geia sou Elena, tha eimai sthn Ellada apot ton Avgousto…banio, parea, poto, OPA!

Michelle, if you ever see red mullet, buy it…it’s a delicious fish.

Patricia, it’s a Mediterranean fish and my fish monger gets a good supply from Europe each week.

Kiwi, they;re almost out of season, enjoy while you can.

Val, look for them next time you’re in Greece.

Pam, put red mullet on your “to-do” seafood list.

Maryann, the bag was over my head! ;)

Gloria , they are a pretty fish.

Heather, still scarred from that nekkid frying incident?

Christine, you won’t find it fresh on the left coast, unless frozen.



Looks great. I have never tried cooking a whole fish before. Sounds like an amazing sauce as well.



See? That’s why I couldn’t find any Red Mullets!!! You’ve got them all ;-)
Lovely dressing… mmmm, surely they were sooooo tasty!