Sad news about old Egon Ronay, who has just died at the grand old age of 94. A year or so ago, I wrote this post:
Remember Egon Ronay? He was that rather dapper Hungarian who published a series of restaurant guides; in vogue a few years ago. One of the favourite books in my modest cookery library is Egon's "The Unforgettable Dishes of My Life', published in 1989. If you're interested in getting hold of a copy, you should be able to get track one down from either amazon.co.uk, or that marvellous antiquarian book website, abebooks.com.
The book's very much a personal thing, with recipes that have held meaning to him for various reasons over the years. That's something I like about food: the way a certain dish can bring back memories, or have some literary or historical connotation. Without, I hope, getting too hyper-intellectual, wasn't that what Proust was all about? You know, the madeline dipped into the lemon scented tea and all that?
Anyway, here's his recipe for "Roast Red Mullet with Cumin Sauce". Hopefully you will be able to buy one from your local fishmonger- if you have any left in your neighbourhood that is. In London, they're more or less gone, and have been replaced by the fish counters of your local supermarket. And Sainsbury's ain't nearly as good as it used to be.
Clean and gut a red mullet, keeping back the bones and the livers. Cut off the heads and the tail. Put the heads, tail, and bones into a saucepan, and add leeks, shallots, white wine, and salt. Pour in two pints of water, and bring to the boil. Skim off the scum as it floats to the top. Cover the saucepan, and simmer for about twenty minutes. Hey presto! You will have a fish stock.
Add two teaspoons of cumin seeds and reduce three quarters of a pint of the stock, until the it takes on a syrupy consistency. Add half a pint of double cream and the red mullet livers, and boil for fifteen seconds. Liquidise in your magimix or blender, and then pass it through a sieve. That's the sauce finished.
Brush the cleaned mullet with oil, and wrap it in foil, first seasoning it with a generous amount of sea salt and chunky black pepper. Place the fish on a baking tray, and cook in the oven at 220C (425F) until the fish is cooked. The flesh will flake up a bit when it's done. Arrange the cooked fish on a plate, and pour the sauce around it.